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Temporal processing deficits in letter-by-letter reading

  • JANET L. INGLES (a1) (a2) and GAIL A. ESKES (a2) (a3)


Theories of the cognitive impairment underlying letter-by-letter reading vary widely, including prelexical and lexical level deficits. One prominent prelexical account proposes that the disorder results from difficulty in processing multiple letters simultaneously. We investigated whether this deficit extends to letters presented in rapid temporal succession. A letter-by-letter reader, G.M., was administered a rapid serial visual presentation task that has been used widely to study the temporal processing characteristics of the normal visual system. Comparisons were made to a control group of 6 brain-damaged individuals without reading deficits. Two target letters were embedded at varying temporal positions in a stream of rapidly presented single digits. After each stream, the identities of the two letters were reported. G.M. required an extended period of time after he had processed one letter before he was able to reliably identify a second letter, relative to the controls. In addition, G.M.'s report of the second letter was most impaired when it immediately followed the first letter, a pattern not seen in the controls, indicating that G.M. had difficulty processing the two items together. These data suggest that a letter-by-letter reading strategy may be adopted to help compensate for a deficit in the temporal processing of letters (JINS, 2007, 13, 110–119.)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr. Janet Ingles, School of Human Communication Disorders, Dalhousie University, 5599 Fenwick Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 1R2, Canada. E-mail:


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Temporal processing deficits in letter-by-letter reading

  • JANET L. INGLES (a1) (a2) and GAIL A. ESKES (a2) (a3)


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