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Tigger Has Rhythm

The internet is fantastic. Without being able to search through archives of news and science reports this blog would be impossible. What prompted this appreciation is the discovery of an BBC News article Poor rhythm ‘at heart of dyslexia’ from 2002.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) found dyslexic children were less able to detect beats in sounds with a strong rhythm. But children who read exceptionally well for their age were found to be much better than most at spotting rhythms“.
The study its based on is from Professor Goswami, from the Institute of Child Health at University College London, who wrote the snappily entitled Amplitude envelope onsets and developmental dyslexia: A new hypothesis.
Before testing, the children were trained by using the two extremes of the continuum. The 15-ms stimulus (which yielded a clear beat) was presented as the sound of two toys (Tigger and Eeyore) swinging on a double-toy swing. The back-and-forth rhythm of their swing coincided with the beat in the signal. The 300-ms stimulus was presented as the sound of Winnie the Pooh sliding down a solid plastic straw in the form of a spiral (he got nearer to the child or further away as the training sound got louder and quieter, respectively). The children then were asked to decide whether subsequent stimuli (given by computer through headphones) belonged to Winnie the Pooh or to Tigger and Eeyore
The result led Professor Goswami to conclude:
…individual differences in sensitivity to the shape of amplitude modulation account for 25% of the variance in reading and spelling acquisition even after controlling for individual differences in age, nonverbal IQ, and vocabulary“.