Are the literacy difficulties that characterize developmental dyslexia associated with a failure to integrate letters and speech sounds?

Hannah M. Nash*, Debbie Gooch, Charles Hulme, Yatin Mahajan, Genevieve Mcarthur, Kurt Steinmetzger, Margaret J. Snowling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The 'automatic letter-sound integration hypothesis' (Blomert, ) proposes that dyslexia results from a failure to fully integrate letters and speech sounds into automated audio-visual objects. We tested this hypothesis in a sample of English-speaking children with dyslexic difficulties (N = 13) and samples of chronological-age-matched (CA; N = 17) and reading-age-matched controls (RA; N = 17) aged 7-13 years. Each child took part in two priming experiments in which speech sounds were preceded by congruent visual letters (congruent condition) or Greek letters (baseline). In a behavioural experiment, responses to speech sounds in the two conditions were compared using reaction times. These data revealed faster reaction times in the congruent condition in all three groups. In a second electrophysiological experiment, responses to speech sounds in the two conditions were compared using event-related potentials (ERPs). These data revealed a significant effect of congruency on (1) the P1 ERP over left frontal electrodes in the CA group and over fronto-central electrodes in the dyslexic group and (2) the P2 ERP in the dyslexic and RA control groups. These findings suggest that our sample of English-speaking children with dyslexic difficulties demonstrate a degree of letter-sound integration that is appropriate for their reading level, which challenges the letter-sound integration hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12423
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume20
Issue number4
Early online date6 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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