The Acoustic Dimension of Reading: Does Musical Aptitude Affect Silent Reading Fluency?

Research paper by José Manuel JM Foncubierta, Francisco H FH Machancoses, Kris K Buyse, M C MC Fonseca-Mora

Indexed on: 16 May '20Published on: 16 May '20Published in: Frontiers in neuroscience


Fluent reading in a foreign language includes a complex coordination process of visual and auditory nature as the reading brain transforms written symbols into speaking auditory patterns through subvocalization (inner voice). The auditory information activated for reading involves the projection of speech prosody and allows, beyond letters and words decoding, the recognition of word boundaries and the construction of the melodic contours of the phrase. On the one hand, phonological awareness and auditory working memory have been identified in the literature as relevant factors in the reading process as skilled readers keep the acoustic information in their auditory working memory to predict the construction of larger lexical units. On the other hand, we observed that the inclusion of musical aptitude as an element belonging to the acoustic dimension of the silent reading aptitude of adults learning a foreign language remains understudied. Therefore, this study examines the silent reading fluency of 117 Italian adult students of Spanish as a foreign language. Our main aim was to find a model that could show if linguistic, cognitive and musical skills influence adults' silent reading fluency. We hypothesized that learners' contextual word recognition ability in L1 and FL in addition to, phonological awareness, auditory working memory and musical aptitude, elements related to the acoustic dimension of reading, would influence adults' silent reading fluency. Our structural modeling allows us to describe how these different variables interact to determine the silent reading fluency construct. In fact, the effect of musical aptitude on fluent silent reading in our model reveals to be stronger than phonological awareness or auditory working memory. Copyright © 2020 Foncubierta, Machancoses, Buyse and Fonseca-Mora.