Reading ability reflects individual differences in auditory brainstem function, even into adulthood.

Brain and language

PubMedID: 27694016

Skoe E, Brody L, Theodore RM. Reading ability reflects individual differences in auditory brainstem function, even into adulthood. Brain Lang. 2016;16425-31.
Research with developmental populations suggests that the maturational state of auditory brainstem encoding is linked to reading ability. Specifically, children with poor reading skills resemble biologically younger children with respect to their auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) to speech stimulation. Because ABR development continues into adolescence, it is possible that the link between ABRs and reading ability changes or resolves as the brainstem matures. To examine these possibilities, ABRs were recorded at varying presentation rates in adults with diverse, yet unimpaired reading levels. We found that reading ability in adulthood related to ABR Wave V latency, with more juvenile response morphology linked to less proficient reading ability, as has been observed for children. These data add to the evidence indicating that auditory brainstem responses serve as an index of the sound-based skills that underlie reading, even into adulthood.