The reliability and validity of tasks measuring perception of rapid sequences in children with dyslexia

Steve Heath, John Hogben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Claims that children with reading and oral language deficits have impaired perception of sequential sounds are usually based on psychophysical measures of auditory temporal processing (ATP) designed to characterise group performance. If we are to use these measures (e.g., the Tallal, 1980, Repetition Test) as the basis for intervention in language and literacy deficits, we need to demonstrate that they can effectively quantify individual differences. Therefore, questions of standardisation, reliability and construct validity can no longer be ignored.Method:  We explored these issues in three studies: (i) 52 Dyslexics and Good Readers aged 8 to 11 years performed a task requiring perception of rapid sequences (PRS) based on the Tallal Repetition Test; (ii) a subgroup of the initial sample was retested on the task three to four months later, and after extended practice; (iii) a further subgroup then completed a rate of auditory processing task using a backward recognition masking paradigm.Results:  With a standardised methodology, we were able to replicate previous results with the PRS task, and demonstrate moderate reliability of measurement across time and practice. However, there were large effects of exposure and practice, and the task did not seem useful for identifying absolute and continuing deficits in given individuals.Conclusions:  Our results call into question the use of this type of task as an individual measure of ATP. Neither is it certain that it is capturing what is currently understood as ATP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1287
JournalJournal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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