Reduced Learning of Sound Categories in Dyslexia Is Associated with Reduced Regularity-Induced Auditory Cortex Adaptation

Ayelet Gertsovski, Merav Ahissar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A main characteristic of dyslexia is poor use of sound categories. We now studied within-session learning of new sound categories in dyslexia, behaviorally and neurally, using fMRI. Human participants (males and females) with and without dyslexia were asked to discriminate which of two serially-presented tones had a higher pitch. The task was administered in two protocols, with and without a repeated reference frequency. The reference condition introduces regularity, and enhances frequency sensitivity in typically developing (TD) individuals. Enhanced sensitivity facilitates the formation of “high” and “low” pitch categories above and below this reference, respectively. We found that in TDs, learning was paralleled by a gradual decrease in activation of the primary auditory cortex (PAC), and reduced activation of the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and left posterior parietal cortex (PPC), which are important for using sensory history. No such sensitivity was found among individuals with dyslexia (IDDs). Rather, IDDs showed reduced behavioral learning of stimulus regularities and no regularity-associated adaptation in the auditory cortex or in higher-level regions. We propose that IDDs’ reduced cortical adaptation, associated with reduced behavioral learning of sound regularities, underlies their impoverished use of stimulus history, and consequently impedes their formation of rich sound categories.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1328-1342
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2022


  • auditory cortex
  • dyslexia
  • frequency discrimination
  • perceptual learning
  • statistical regularities

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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