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The aim of this study was to examine (a) the development of vocabulary and grammar in children with family-risk (FR) of dyslexia and their peers with no such risk (NoFR) between ages 1;6 and 6;0, and (b) whether FR-status exerted an effect on the direction of temporal relationships between these two constructs. Groups were assessed at seven time-points using standardised tests and parental reports. Results indicated that although FR and NoFR children had a similar development in the earlier years, the FR group appeared to perform significantly more poorly on vocabulary at the end of the preschool period. Results showed no significant effect of FR status on the cross-lagged relations between lexical and grammatical skills, suggesting a similar developmental pattern of cross-domain relations in both groups. However, FR status seemed to have a significantly negative association with vocabulary and grammar scores at age 6;0, resulting in language outcomes in favour of NoFR children.
Many studies show that poor readers make more errors in nonword repetition than better readers. Although this finding is generally linked to the lower quality of poor readers’ phonological representations in verbal short-term memory, the nature of this poor performance remains unclear. We addressed this issue by focusing on two types of phoneme-related performance in a nonword repetition task: (a) recall of phonemes irrespective of their serial order (phoneme identity) and (b) recall of correctly reproduced phonemes’ serial order (serial order). We tested 91 young adults with and without dyslexia. Generalized linear mixed-effects models demonstrated that controls outperformed individuals with dyslexia in the recall of phonemes’ serial order but failed to detect a difference in the recall of phonemes’ identity. These findings are discussed not only in terms of the nature of or access to phonological representations but also in terms of another concept that has recently been advanced in the literature: a specialized serial order mechanism in verbal short-term memory. We also consider the possibility that individuals with dyslexia may be less sensitive to phonotactic constraints.
Spelling is a key, and telling, component of children’s literacy development. An important aspect of spelling development lies in children’s sensitivity to morphological root constancy. This is the sensitivity to the fact that the spelling of roots typically remains constant across related words (e.g., sing in singing and singer). The present investigation examined the extent to which children with dyslexia and younger typically developing children are sensitive to this feature of the orthography. We did so with a spelling-level matched design (e.g., Bourassa & Treiman, 2008) and by further contrasting results with those for a sample of children of the same chronological age as the dyslexic group. Analyses revealed that the dyslexic children and their spelling-ability matched peers used the root constancy principle to a similar degree. However, neither group used this principle to its maximum extent; maximal use of root constancy did emerge for age matched peers. Overall, the findings support the idea that sensitivity to root constancy in children with dyslexia is characterized by delayed rather than atypical development.
What Australian psychologists currently learn about specific learning disorders (SLDs) through postgraduate-level training is not clear. Accordingly, the current Australia-wide study analysed 800 postgraduate psychology unit handbook entries to identify which courses teach about SLD and what they teach in this area. Only 2.38% of the identified units explicitly indicated SLD-related content, with 0.38% solely dedicated to SLD content. Descriptive analyses revealed differences in labels used for SLD. Thematic analyses identified five areas of knowledge and skills across SLD units including assessment, intervention, theory and empirical evidence, developmental and cultural awareness and sensitivity, and interpersonal communication. The present findings can inform future refinements to university-level psychology programs across Australia by highlighting the gaps and needs in psychology training.
Although our understanding of reading acquisition has grown, the study of dyslexia in Standard Indonesian (SI) is still in its infancy. A recently developed assessment battery for young readers of SI was used to test the feasibility of Pennington et al.’s (2012) multiple-case approach to dyslexia in the highly transparent orthography of SI. Reading, spelling, phonological skills, and nonverbal IQ were assessed in 285 first, second, and third graders. Deficits in reading-related cognitive skills were classified and regression analyses were conducted to test the fit of single and multiple deficit models. Naming speed (NS) was the main predictor of reading and decoding fluency, followed by phonological awareness (PA), and verbal working memory (VWM). Accounting for 33% of the cases that satisfied both methods of individual prediction (i.e., classification of deficits and regression analysis), the hybrid model proved the best fit. None of the deficits in PA, NS, or VWM alone was sufficient to predict a risk of dyslexia in the present sample, nor was a deficit in PA necessary. Hence, there are multiple pathways to being at risk of dyslexia in SI, some involving single deficits, some multiple deficits, and some without deficits in PA, NS, or VWM.
This study examined the processing of derivational morphology and its association with measures of morphological awareness and literacy outcomes in 30 Dutch-speaking high-functioning dyslexics, and 30 controls, matched for age and reading comprehension. A masked priming experiment was conducted where the semantic overlap between morphologically related pairs was manipulated as part of a lexical decision task. Measures of morphological awareness were assessed using a specifically designed sentence completion task. Significant priming effects were found in each group, yet adults with dyslexia were found to benefit more from the morphological structure than the controls. Adults with dyslexia were found to be influenced by both form (morpho-orthographic) and meaning (morphosemantic) properties of morphemes while controls were mainly influenced by morphosemantic properties. The reports suggest that morphological processing is intact in high-functioning dyslexics and a strength when compared to controls matched for reading comprehension and age. Thus, reports support morphological processing as a potential factor in the reading compensation of adults with dyslexia. However, adults with dyslexia performed significantly worse than controls on morphological awareness measures.
While much is known about dyslexia in school-age children and adolescents, less is known about its effects on quality of life in adults. Using data from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study, we provide the first estimates of the monetary value of improving reading, speaking, and cognitive skills to dyslexic and nondyslexic adults. Using a stated-preference survey, we find that dyslexic and nondyslexic individuals value improvements in their skills in reading speed, reading aloud, pronunciation, memory, and information retrieval at about the same rate. Because dyslexics have lower self-reported levels on these skills, their total willingness to pay to achieve a high level of skill is substantially greater than for nondyslexics. However, dyslexic individuals’ willingness to pay (averaging $3000 for an improvement in all skills simultaneously) is small compared with the difference in earnings between dyslexic and nondyslexic adults. We estimate that dyslexic individuals earn 15% less per year (about $8000) than nondyslexic individuals. Although improvements in reading, speaking, and cognitive skills in adulthood are unlikely to eliminate the earnings difference that reflects differences in educational attainment and other factors, stated-preference estimates of the value of cognitive skills may substantially underestimate the value derived from effects on lifetime earnings and health.
This review examines the convergence of recent developments in the fields of language and literacy development and, in particular, developments relating phonological development to both language and reading development. It begins by examining the issue of how children represent spoken words. In particular, it presents recent work arguing that, throughout early and even middle childhood, children’s representations of spoken words are reorganised as sequences of phonemes. The second section examines poor readers’ phonologicol recoding difficulties and, in particular, the contribution of phonological awareness to early reading success. This section includes an overview of phonologicol awareness training studies in “at-risk” preschool and kindergarten children. The final section examines phonologicol processing difficulties as a common underlying cause of reading dificulties.This section provides a theoretical context for practitioners to understand diverse findings relating performance on a wide range of tasks to children’s reading achievement.
Auditory phonological processing skills are critical for successful reading development in English not only in native (L1) speakers but also in second language (L2) learners. However, the neural deficits of auditory phonological processing remain unknown in English-as-the-second-language (ESL) learners with reading difficulties. Here we investigated neural responses during spoken word rhyme judgments in typical and impaired ESL readers in China. The impaired readers showed comparable activation in the left superior temporal gyrus (LSTG), but reduced activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and left fusiform and reduced connectivity between the LSTG and left fusiform when compared to typical readers. These findings suggest that impaired ESL readers have relative intact representations but impaired manipulation of phonology and reduced or absent automatic access to orthographic representations. This is consistent with previous findings in native English speakers and suggests a common neural mechanism underlying English impairment across the L1 and L2 learners.
Students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD) in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Republic of Ireland are required to have a formal psycho-educational assessment from an educational psychologist to register with Disability Services in HEIs, to be eligible for support through the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD). Such assessments are expensive and often beyond the financial means of students and their families. However, there is a sustained demand from students experiencing academic difficulties for diagnostic assessment of SpLD (Association for Higher Education Access and Disability [AHEAD], 2012). This study describes the SpLD screening and assessment practices implemented by HEIs in Ireland (n = 14), finding that (a) there are no defined parameters for assessment of SpLD in higher education (HE), meaning that methods and accuracy of identification of positive indicators may vary across HEIs; and (b) the majority of HEIs screen for dyslexia only, with little or no recognition of the need to assess for comorbidity of learning disabilities. Findings support the requirement for a reliable and valid standardised assessment procedure for Irish HEIs, which would provide equitable access to an initial diagnosis. Finally, a screening model is proposed, which is currently provided by one HEI.
Schizophrenia has a neurodevelopmental component to its origin, and may share overlapping pathogenic mechanisms with childhood neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs). Nevertheless, longitudinal studies of psychotic outcomes among individuals with NDs are limited. We report a population-based prospective study of six common childhood NDs, subsequent neurocognitive performance and the risk of psychotic experiences (PEs) in early adolescence.
PEs were assessed by semi-structured interviews at age 13 years. IQ and working memory were measured between ages 9 and 11 years. The presence of six NDs (autism spectrum, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, dysorthographia, dyscalculia) was determined from parent-completed questionnaires at age 9 years. Linear regression calculated the mean difference in cognitive scores between children with and without NDs. Associations between NDs and PEs were expressed as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs); effects of cognitive deficits were examined. Potential confounders included age, gender, father's social class, ethnicity and maternal education.
Out of 8220 children, 487 (5.9%) were reported to have NDs at age 9 years. Children with, compared with those without, NDs performed worse on all cognitive measures; the adjusted mean difference in total IQ was 6.84 (95% CI 5.00–8.69). The association between total IQ and NDs was linear (p < 0.0001). The risk of PEs was higher in those with, compared with those without, NDs; the adjusted OR for definite PEs was 1.76 (95% CI 1.11–2.79). IQ (but not working memory) deficit partly explained this association.
Higher risk of PEs in early adolescence among individuals with childhood ND is consistent with the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia.
Morphemes facilitate visual word recognition, leading to greater accuracy and fluency in reading morphologically complex words. In children with dyslexia, the morphological structure might be useful to reduce difficulties caused by phonological deficits. The aim of this study was to determine whether Spanish-speaking children with dyslexia benefit from morphemes when reading. A group of children with dyslexia of different ages (7 to 10 years) and a group of children without reading disabilities, matched on chronological age and gender, participated in a task of reading isolated words and pseudowords in which morphological complexity was manipulated. Half of the stimuli were morphologically simple and half morphologically complex. Children with dyslexia benefit from morphology since they have better performance with the morphologically complex stimuli. These results indicate that they are able to develop representations of units larger than the grapheme, what suggests that Spanish-speaking children with dyslexia use the morphological structure to overcome their difficulties in phonological recoding. These results have important implications for the rehabilitation of children with dyslexia.
Learning to read in any language requires learning to map among print, sound and meaning. Writing systems differ in a number of factors that influence both the ease and the rate with which reading skill can be acquired, as well as the eventual division of labor between phonological and semantic processes. Further, developmental reading disability manifests differently across writing systems, and may be related to different deficits in constitutive processes. Here we simulate some aspects of reading acquisition in Chinese and English using the same model for both writing systems. The contribution of semantic and phonological processing to literacy acquisition in the two languages is simulated, including specific effects of phonological and semantic deficits. Further, we demonstrate that similar patterns of performance are observed when the same model is trained on both Chinese and English as an “early bilingual”. The results are consistent with the view that reading skill is acquired by the application of statistical learning rules to mappings among print, sound and meaning, and that differences in the typical and disordered acquisition of reading skill between writing systems are driven by differences in the statistical patterns of the writing systems themselves, rather than differences in cognitive architecture of the learner.
Spatiotemporal brain activation profiles were obtained from 27 middle school students experiencing difficulties in reading comprehension as well as word-level skills (RD) and 23 age- and IQ-matched non-reading impaired students during performance of an oral pseudoword reading task using Magnetoencephalography (MEG). Based on their scores on standardized reading fluency tests 1 year later, students with RD who showed significant improvement were classified as Adequate Responders (AR) whereas those not demonstrating such gains were classified as Inadequate Responders (IR). At baseline, activation profiles of the AR group featured increased activity in the left supramarginal and angular gyri, as well as in the superior and middle temporal gyri, bilaterally compared to IR. The degree of activity in these regions was a significant predictor of the amount of subsequent gains in reading fluency. These results extend previous functional brain imaging findings of beginning readers, suggesting that recruitment of brain areas that typically serve as key components of the brain circuit for reading is an important factor in determining response to intervention in older struggling readers. (JINS, 2011, 17, 875–885)
A set of 10 SNPs associated with reading ability in 7-year-olds was reported based on initial pooled analyses of 100K SNP chip data, with follow-up testing stages using pooling and individual testing. Here we examine this association in an adolescent population sample of Australian twins and siblings (N = 1177) aged 12 to 25 years. One (rs1842129) of the 10 SNPs approached significance (P = .05) but no support was found for the remaining 9 SNPs or the SNP set itself. Results indicate that these SNPs are not associated with reading ability in an Australian population. The results are interpreted as supporting use of much larger SNP sets in common disorders where effects are small.
The cerebellar hypothesis of dyslexia posits that cerebellar deficits are associated with reading disabilities and may explain why some individuals with reading disabilities fail to respond to reading interventions. We tested these hypotheses in a sample of children who participated in a grade 1 reading intervention study (n = 174) and a group of typically achieving children (n = 62). At posttest, children were classified as adequately responding to the intervention (n = 82), inadequately responding with decoding and fluency deficits (n = 36), or inadequately responding with only fluency deficits (n = 56). Based on the Bead Threading and Postural Stability subtests from the Dyslexia Screening Test-Junior, we found little evidence that assessments of cerebellar functions were associated with academic performance or responder status. In addition, we did not find evidence supporting the hypothesis that cerebellar deficits are more prominent for poor readers with “specific” reading disabilities (i.e., with discrepancies relative to IQ) than for poor readers with reading scores consistent with IQ. In contrast, measures of phonological awareness, rapid naming, and vocabulary were strongly associated with responder status and academic outcomes. These results add to accumulating evidence that fails to associate cerebellar functions with reading difficulties. (JINS, 2010, 16, 526–536.)
The hypotheses of a visual basis to reading disabilities in some children have centered around deficits in the visual processes displaying more transient reponses to stimuli although hyperactivity in the visual processes displaying sustained reponses to stimuli has also been proposed as a mechanism. In addition, there is clear evidence that colored lenses and/or colored overlays and/or colored backgrounds can influence performance in reading and/or may assist in providing comfortable vision for reading and, as a consequence, the ability to maintain reading for longer. As a consequence, it is surprising that the color vision of poor readers is relatively little studied. We assessed luminance increment thresholds and equi-luminous red-green and blue-yellow increment thresholds using a computer based test in central vision and at 10° nasally employing the paradigm pioneered by King-Smith. We examined 35 poor readers (based on the Neale Analysis of Reading) and compared their performance with 35 normal readers matched for age and IQ. Poor readers produced similar luminance contrast thresholds for both foveal and peripheral presentation compared with normals. Similarly, chromatic contrast discrimination for the red/green stimuli was the same in normal and poor readers. However, poor readers had significantly lower thresholds/higher sensitivity for the blue/yellow stimuli, for both foveal and peripheral presentation, compared with normal readers. This hypersensitivity in blue-yellow discrimination may point to why colored lenses and overlays are often found to be effective in assisting many poor readers.
This study was designed to assess the effects of four reading-training procedures for children with reading disabilities (RD) in a transparent orthography, with the aim of examining the effects of different spelling-to-sound units in computer speech-based reading. We selected a sample of 83 Spanish children aged between 7 years 1 month and 10 years 6 months (M = 105.2, SD = 7.8) whose pseudoword reading performance was below the 25th percentile and IQ > 90. The participants were randomly assigned to five groups: (a) the whole-word training group (WW) (n = 17), (b) the syllable training group (S)(n = 16), (c) the onset-rime training group (OR) (n = 17), (d) the phoneme training group (P) (n = 15), and (e) the untrained control group (n = 18). Children were pre- and post-tested in word recognition, reading comprehension, phonological awareness, and orthographic and phonological tasks. The results indicate that experimental groups who participated in the phoneme and syllable conditions improved their word recognition in comparison with the control group. In addition, dyslexics who participated in the phoneme, syllable, and onset-rime conditions made a greater number of requests during computer-based word reading under conditions that required extensive phonological computation (low frequency words and long words). Reading time, however, was greater for long words in the phoneme group during computer-based reading. These results suggest the importance of training phonological processes in improving word decoding in children with dyslexia who learn in a consistent orthography.
William Yule's many contributions to the field of reading disabilities over the last 40 years are reviewed and set in the context of recent research evidence. The value of regression methods in the measurement of reading performance remains valid, but spelling, as well as reading, difficulties need to be assessed in relation to the diagnosis of dyslexia. Although categorical approaches to diagnosis are needed for some purposes, it is likely that the genetic liability to dyslexia is dimensional. Overall, Yule's identification of the key features of specific reading retardation have been confirmed by subsequent research, but the concept of general reading backwardness as a diagnosis has proved less meaningful. The identification of the high rate of comorbidity between reading disability and emotional/behavioural disturbance, highlighted by Yule 35 years ago, has been amply confirmed but the causal mechanisms remain ill-understood.
Pediatric neuroimaging techniques can probe the integrity of brain function and normal brain maturational processes and provide a window into possible abnormalities in neurocognitive development. This chapter describes the initial investigations and discusses what has been found regarding the changes in brain function that support the healthy maturation of cognitive control of behavior. Basic cognitive processes, which are evident in infancy and show dramatic changes throughout childhood, continue to develop throughout adolescence. Two higher-order cognitive abilities crucial to the voluntary control of behavior are working memory and voluntary suppression of context-inappropriate responses. Most pediatric functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies are performed to assist in the localization of language areas to guide excision lesions to relieve epileptic seizures. Pediatric fMRI studies have provided insight into the possible factors underlying the etiology of developmental abnormalities such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.