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The Role of Visual Processing Speed in Reading Speed Development
Barton, Jason Jeremy Sinclair
A steady increase in reading speed is the hallmark of normal reading acquisition. However, little is known of the influence of visual attention capacity on children's reading speed. The number of distinct visual elements that can be simultaneously processed at a glance (dubbed the visual attention span), predicts single-word reading speed in both normal reading and dyslexic children. However, the exact processes that account for the relationship between the visual attention span and reading speed remain to be specified. We used the Theory of Visual Attention to estimate visual processing speed and visual short-term memory capacity from a multiple letter report task in eight and nine year old children. The visual attention span and text reading speed were also assessed. Results showed that visual processing speed and visual short term memory capacity predicted the visual attention span. Furthermore, visual processing speed predicted reading speed, but visual short term memory capacity did not. Finally, the visual attention span mediated the effect of visual processing speed on reading speed. These results suggest that visual attention capacity could constrain reading speed in elementary school children.
Investigating the role of visual and auditory search in reading and developmental dyslexia
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
It has been suggested that auditory and visual sequential processing deficits contribute to phonological disorders in developmental dyslexia. As an alternative explanation to a phonological deficit as the proximal cause for reading disorders, the visual attention span hypothesis (VA Span) suggests that difficulties in processing visual elements simultaneously lead to dyslexia, regardless of the presence of a phonological disorder. In this study, we assessed whether deficits in processing simultaneously displayed visual or auditory elements is linked to dyslexia associated with a VA Span impairment. Sixteen children with developmental dyslexia and 16 age-matched skilled readers were assessed on visual and auditory search tasks. Participants were asked to detect a target presented simultaneously with 3, 9, or 15 distracters. In the visual modality, target detection was slower in the dyslexic children than in the control group on a “serial” search condition only: the intercepts (but not the slopes) of the search functions were higher in the dyslexic group than in the control group. In the auditory modality, although no group difference was observed, search performance was influenced by the number of distracters in the control group only. Within the dyslexic group, not only poor visual search (high reaction times and intercepts) but also low auditory search performance (d′) strongly correlated with poor irregular word reading accuracy. Moreover, both visual and auditory search performance was associated with the VA Span abilities of dyslexic participants but not with their phonological skills. The present data suggests that some visual mechanisms engaged in “serial” search contribute to reading and orthographic knowledge via VA Span skills regardless of phonological skills. The present results further open the question of the role of auditory simultaneous processing in reading as well as its link with VA Span skills.
dyslexia; reading; visual search; auditory search; attention; temporal processing; visual attention span; phonology
Effect of Orthographic Processes on Letter Identity and Letter-Position Encoding in Dyslexic Children
Frontiers in Psychology
The ability to identify letters and encode their position is a crucial step of the word recognition process. However and despite their word identification problem, the ability of dyslexic children to encode letter identity and letter-position within strings was not systematically investigated. This study aimed at filling this gap and further explored how letter identity and letter-position encoding is modulated by letter context in developmental dyslexia. For this purpose, a letter-string comparison task was administered to French dyslexic children and two chronological age (CA) and reading age (RA)-matched control groups. Children had to judge whether two successively and briefly presented four-letter strings were identical or different. Letter-position and letter identity were manipulated through the transposition (e.g., RTGM vs. RMGT) or substitution of two letters (e.g., TSHF vs. TGHD). Non-words, pseudo-words, and words were used as stimuli to investigate sub-lexical and lexical effects on letter encoding. Dyslexic children showed both substitution and transposition detection problems relative to CA-controls. A substitution advantage over transpositions was only found for words in dyslexic children whereas it extended to pseudo-words in RA-controls and to all type of items in CA-controls. Letters were better identified in the dyslexic group when belonging to orthographically familiar strings. Letter-position encoding was very impaired in dyslexic children who did not show any word context effect in contrast to CA-controls. Overall, the current findings point to a strong letter identity and letter-position encoding disorder in developmental dyslexia.
letter-string processing; letter-position encoding; letter-identity encoding; letter transposition; letter substitution; reading acquisition; dyslexic children
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