Rhythm perception seems to be crucial to language development. Many studies have shown that children with developmental dyslexia and developmental language disorder have difficulties in processing rhythmic structures. In this study, we investigated the relationships between prosody and musical processing in Italian children with typical and atypical development. The tasks aimed to reproduce linguistic prosodic structures through musical sequences, offering a direct comparison between the two domains without violating the specificities of each one. About 16 Typically Developing children, 16 children with a diagnosis of Developmental Dyslexia, and 16 with a diagnosis of developmental language disorder (age 10–13 years) participated in the experimental study. Three tasks were administered: an association task between a sentence and its humming version, a stress discrimination task (between couples of sounds reproducing the intonation of Italian trisyllabic words), and an association task between trisyllabic nonwords with different stress position and three-notes musical sequences with different musical stress. Children with developmental language disorder perform significantly lower than Typically Developing children on the humming test. By contrast, children with developmental dyslexia are significantly slower than TD in associating nonwords with musical sequences. Accuracy and speed in the experimental tests correlate with metaphonological, language, and word reading scores. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed within a multidimensional model of neurodevelopmental disorders including prosodic and rhythmic skills at word and sentence level.
- developmental dyslexia
- developmental language disorders
- lexical stress
- rhythmic structures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience