Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-6zkrn Total loading time: 0.49 Render date: 2023-02-02T07:43:38.277Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

13 - Analysis of reading disorders from a neuropsychological perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

H. Gerry Taylor
Professor of Pediatrics Case Western Reserve University
Kurt W. Fischer
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Jane Holmes Bernstein
The Children's Hospital, Boston
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
University of Southern California
Get access


Overview: Uncovering the true nature of dyslexia requires more research on the relation between environmental and neurological influences on the development of reading. One factor that complicates diagnosis of core deficits is children's use of compensatory strategies to deal with task demands. To get around this problem, Taylor suggests focusing on basic cognitive abilities, making connections between children's cognitive weaknesses and their possible neurological deficits. For example, he suggests that the child William's difficulties with copying the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure and with sequencing items may stem from problems with executive function and deficits in frontal lobe processing. This approach hones in on deficits and the separation of children's primary neurological problems from the complex effects of environmental influence and individual compensation.

The Editors

The snapshots of behavior and task performance seen in the videotape segments document wide-ranging differences between children with normal learning abilities, such as Jonathan, and students with learning problems. These segments also demonstrate the variability in learning problems and associated cognitive and behavioral traits present within even a small sample of children with reading disabilities. The divide between normal and disabled is by no means unidimensional.

However, children with reading disorders also have characteristics in common. One of our assumptions about the boys with reading disabilities is that they have had chronic and relatively intractable problems in learning to read.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adelman, H. S. (1989). Beyond the learning mystique: An interactional perspective on learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22, 301–4, 328.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Barnes, M. A., Faulkner, H. & Dennis, M. (2001). Poor reading comprehension despite fast word decoding in children with hydrocephalus. Brain and Language, 76, 35–44.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Breier, J. I., Simos, P. G., Fletcher, J. M., Castillo, E. M., Zhang, W. & Papanicolaou, A. C. (2003). Abnormal activation of temporoparietal language areas during phonetic analysis in children with dyslexia. Neuropsycyhology, 17, 610–21.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Catts, H. W., Gillispie, M., Leonard, L. B., Kail, R. V. & Miller, C. A. (2002). The role of speed of processing, rapid naming, and phonological awareness in reading achievement. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 509–24.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ceci, S. J. (1991). How much does schooling influence general intelligence and its cognitive components? A reassessment of the evidence. Developmental Psychology, 27, 703–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dawson, G. & Fischer, K. W. (eds) (1994). Human behavior and the developing brain. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
Denckla, M. B. (1989). Executive function, the overlap zone between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities. International Pediatrics, 4, 155–60.Google Scholar
Filipek, P. A. (1995). Neurobiologic correlates of developmental dyslexia: How do dyslexics' brains differ from those of normal readers?Journal of Child Neurology, 10, S62–S69.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fletcher, J. M. & Foorman, B. R. (1994). Issues in definition and measurement of learning disabilities: The need for early intervention. In Lyon, G. R. (ed.), Frames of references for the assessment of learning disabilities: New views on measurement issues,184–200. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
Fletcher, J. M., Foorman, B. R., Shaywitz, S. E. & Shaywitz, B. A. (1999). Conceptual and methodological issues in dyslexia research: A lesson for developmental disorders. In Tager-Flusberg, H. (ed.), Neurodevelopmental disorders. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 271–305. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Fletcher, J. M. & Lyon, G. R. (1998). Reading: A research-based approach. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, TX.
Fletcher, J. M., Shaywitz, S. E., Shankweiler, D. P., Katz, L., Liberman, I. Y., Fowler, A., Francis, D. J., Stuebing, K. K. & Shaywitz, B. A. (1994). Cognitive profiles of reading disability: Comparisons of discrepancy and low achievement definitions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 1–18.Google Scholar
Fletcher, J. M. & Taylor, H. G. (1984). Neuropsychological approaches to children: Towards a developmental neuropsychology. Journal of Clinical Neuropsychology, 6, 24–37.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Foorman, B. R. (1994). The relevance of a connectionistic model of reading for “The Great Debate.”Educational Psychology Review, 6, 25–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Foorman, B. R., Francis, D. J., Beeler, T., Winikates, D. & Fletcher, J. M. (1997). Early interventions for children with reading problems: Study designs and preliminary findings. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 8, 63–71.Google Scholar
Francis, D. J., Fletcher, J. M., Shaywitz, B. A., Shaywitz, S. E. & Rourke, B. P. (1996). Defining learning and language disabilities: Conceptual and psychometric issues with the use of IQ tests. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 27, 132–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galaburda, A. M. (1989). Learning disability: Biological, societal, or both? A response to Gerald Coles. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22, 278–82, 286.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Geschwind, N. (1981). Neurological knowledge and complex behaviors. In Norman, D. A. (ed.), Perspectives on cognitive science, 27–35. Norwood, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Goswami, U. (2002). Phonology, reading development and dyslexia: A cross-linguistic perspective. Annals of Dyslexia, 52, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hennessy, N., Rosenberg, D. & Tramaglini, S. (1998). A high school model for students with dyslexia: Remediation to accommodation. Perspectives: The International Dyslexia Association, 24, 22–4.Google Scholar
Horn, W. F. & Packard, T. (1985). Early identification of learning problems: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 597–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kelly, M. S., Best, C. T. & Kirk, U. (1989). Cognitive processing deficits in reading disabilities: A prefrontal cortical hypothesis. Brain and cognition, 11, 275–93.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Light, J. G., Pennington, B. F., Gilger, J. W. & DeFries, J. C. (1995). Reading disability and hyperactivity disorder: Evidence for a common genetic etiology. Developmental Neuropsychology, 11, 323–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lou, H. C. (1996). Etiology and pathogenesis of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Significance of prematurity and perinatal hypoxic-haemodynamic encephalopathy. Acta Paediatrica, 85, 1266–71.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lovett, M. W., Borden, S., DeLuca, T., Laceerenza, L., Benson, N. & Branckstone, D. (1994). Treating the core deficits of developmental dyslexia: Evidence of transfer of learning after phonologically- and strategy-based reading training programs. Developmental Psychology, 30, 805–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovett, M. W., Steinbach, K. A. & Frijters, J. C. (2000). Remediating the core deficits of developmental reading disability: A double-deficit perspective. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 334–58.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lyon, G. R., Fletcher, J. M. & Barnes, M. A. (2003). Learning disabilities. In Mash, E. J. & Barkley, R. A. (eds), Child psychopathology, 2nd edn, 520–86. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
Meltzer, L., Roditi, B. & Stein, J. (1998). Strategy instruction: The heartbeat of successful inclusion. Perspectives: The International Dyslexia Association, 24, 10–13.Google Scholar
Morris, R. D., Stuebing, K. K., Fletcher, J. M., Shaywitz, S. E., Lyon, G. R., Shankweiler, D. P., Katz, L., Francis, D. J. & Shaywitz, B. A. (1998). Subtypes of reading disability: Variability around a phonological core. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 347–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nelson, C. A. & Bloom, F. E. (1997). Child development and neuroscience. Child Development, 68, 970–87.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Neuhaus, G., Foorman, B. R., Francis, D. J. & Carlson, C. D. (2001). Measures of information processing in rapid automatized naming (RAN) and their relation to reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 78, 359–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pennington, B. F. (1995). Genetics of learning disabilities. Journal of Child Neurology, 10, S69–S77.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pennington, B. F. (1997). Using genetics to dissect cognition. American Journal of Human Genetics, 60, 13–16.Google ScholarPubMed
Pennington, B. F. (2002). The development of psychopathology: Nature and nurture. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Plomin, R. & Rutter, M. (1998). Child development, molecular genetics, and what to do with genes once they are found. Child Development, 69, 1223–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rumsey, J. M. (1996). Developmental dyslexia: Anatomic and functional neuroimaging. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 2, 28–38.3.0.CO;2-T>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rutter, M. (1994). Beyond longitudinal data: Causes, consequences, changes, and continuity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 928–40.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sarter, M., Berntson, G. G. & Cacioppo, J. T. (1996). Brain imaging and cognitive neuroscience: Toward strong inference in attributing function to structure. American Psychologist, 51, 13–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Satz, P., Buka, S., Lipsett, L. & Seidman, L. (1998). The long-term prognosis of learning disabled children: A review of studies (1954–1993). In Shapiro, B. K., Capute, A. & Accardo, P. J. (eds), Specific reading disabilities: A view of the spectrum, 223–50. Parkton, MD: York Press.Google Scholar
Scarborough, H. S. (1991). Early syntactic development of dyslexic children. Annals of Dyslexia, 41, 207–20.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shaywitz, B. A. & Shaywitz, S. E. (1994). Learning disabilities and attention disorders. In Swaiman, K. (ed.), Principles of pediatric neurology, 1119–51. St. Louis, MO: C. V. Mosby.Google Scholar
Shaywitz, S. E. (1998). Dyslexia. New England Journal of Medicine, 338, 307–12.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shaywitz, S. E., Escobar, M. D., Shaywitz, B. A., Fletcher, J. M. & Makuch, R. (1992). Distribution and temporal stability of dyslexia in an epidemiological sample of 414 children followed longitudinally. New England Journal of Medicine, 326, 145–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shaywitz, S. E., Fletcher, J. M. & Shaywitz, B. A. (1996). A conceptual model and definition of dyslexia: Findings emerging from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study. In Beitchman, J. H., Cohen, N. J., Konstantareas, M. M. & Tannock, R. (eds), Language, learning, and behavior disorders: Developmental, biological, and clinical perspectives, 199–223. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Shaywitz, S. E., Shaywitz, B. A., Pugh, K. R., Fulbright, R. K., Constable, R. T., Mencl, W. E., Shankweiler, D. P., Liberman, A. M., Skudlarski, P., Fletcher, J. M., Datz, L., Marchione, K. E., Lacadie, C., Gatenby, C. & Gore, J. C. (1998). Functional disruption in the organization of the brain for reading in dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 95, 2636–41.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Simos, P. G., Fletcher, J. M., Bergman, E., Breier, J. I., Foorman, B. R., Castillo, E. M., Davis, R. N., Fitzgerald, M. & Papanicolaou, A. C. (2002). Dyslexia-specific brain activation profile becomes normal following successful remedial training. Neurology, 58, 1202–13.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Snowling, M. J., Goulandris, N. & Defty, N. (1996). A longitudinal study of reading development in dyslexic children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 653–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 360–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stanovich, K. E. (1988). Explaining the differences between the dyslexic and the garden-variety poor reader: The phonological-core variable-difference model. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 21, 590–604.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Stanovich, K. E., West, R. F. & Harrison, M. R. (1995). Knowledge growth and maintenance across the life span: The role of print exposure. Developmental Psychology, 31, 811–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, H. G. (1988a). Learning disabilities. In Mash, E. & Terdal, L. (eds), Behavioral assessment of childhood disorders, 2nd edn, 402–50. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
Taylor, H. G. (1988b). Neuropsychological testing: Relevance for assessing children's learning disabilities. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 795–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, H. G. (1989). Learning disabilities. In Mash, E. & Barkley, R. A. (eds), Treatment of childhood disorders, 347–80. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
Taylor, H. G., Anselmo, M., Foreman, A, Schatschneider, C. & Angelopoulos, J. (2000). Utility of kindergarten teacher judgements in identifying early learning problems. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 200–10.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Taylor, H. G. & Fletcher, J. M. (1990). Neuropsychological assessment of children. In Hersen, M. & Goldstein, G. (eds), Handbook of psychological assessment, 2nd edn, 228–55. New York, NY: Plenum.Google Scholar
Torgesen, J. K. (1997). The prevention and remediation of reading disabilities: Evaluating what we know from research. Journal of Academic Language Therapy, 1, 11–47.Google Scholar
Torgesen, J. K., Alexander, A. W., Wagner, R. K., Rashotte, C. A., Voeller, K., Conway, T. & Rose, E. (2001). Intensive remedial instruction for children with severe reading disabilities: Immediate and long-term outcomes from two instructional approaches. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 33–58.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vellutino, F. R., Scanlon, D. M., Sipay, E. R., Small, S. G., Pratt, A., Chen, R. & Denckla, M. B. (1996). Cognitive profiles of difficult-to-remediate and readily remediated poor readers: Early intervention as a vehicle for distinguishing between cognitive and experiential deficits as basic causes of specific reading disability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 601–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wachs, T. D. (1992). The nature of nurture. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wolf, M., Pfeil, C., Lotz, R. & Biddle, K. (1994). Towards a more universal understanding of the developmental dyslexias: The contribution of orthographic factors. In Berninger, V. W. (ed.), The varieties of orthographic knowledge, Vol. 1, 137–71. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wolff, P. H. (1993). Impaired temporal resolution in developmental dyslexia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 683, 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zigmond, N. (1995). Models for delivery of special education services to students with learning disabilities in public schools. Journal of Child Neurology, 10, S86–S92.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats