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Effects of reading goals on reading comprehension, reading rate, and allocation of working memory in children and adolescents with spina bifida meningomyelocele



Spina bifida meningomyelocele (SBM) is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with intact word decoding and deficient text and discourse comprehension. This study investigated the ability to adjust reading in accordance with specified reading goals in 79 children and adolescents with SBM (9–19 years of age) and 39 controls (8–17 years of age). Both groups demonstrated slower reading times and enhanced comprehension when reading to study or to come up with a title than when reading for specific information or for entertainment. For both groups, verbal working memory contributed to comprehension performance in those reading conditions hypothesized to require more cognitive effort. Despite their sensitivity to the goals of reading, the group with SBM answered fewer comprehension questions correctly across all reading goal conditions. The results are discussed in relation to the hypothesized cognitive underpinnings of comprehension deficits in SBM and to current models of text comprehension. (JINS, 2010, 16, 517–525.)


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*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Marcia A. Barnes, Children’s Learning Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, 7000 Fannin Street, Suite 2431, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail:


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