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Intrusion of orthographic knowledge on phoneme awareness: Strong in normal readers, weak in dyslexic readers

  • Karin Landerl (a1), Uta Frith (a2) and Heinz Wimmer (a1)


In three typical phonological awareness tasks it was found that children with normal reading development sometimes give responses that are based on orthographic rather than phonological information. In dyslexic children, the number of occurrences of such orthographic intrusions was significantly lower. This effect cannot be explained by positing a lower degree of orthographic knowledge in dyslexic children since a group of younger children who had the same spelling level as the dyslexics also showed more orthographic intrusions. A plausible explanation for this difference between normal and dyslexic readers is that, in normal readers, phonological and orthographic representations of words are so closely connected that they are usually coactivated, even if such a coactivation is misleading. In dyslexics this connection is less strong, so that orthographic representations interfere less with phonemic segmentation. The relevance of this finding with respect to recent assumptions about the importance of phonology in establishing orthographic representations is discussed.


Corresponding author

Karin Landerl, Department of Psychology,University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria


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