Contrast sensitivity in subgroups of developmental dyslexia

Monica J. Williams*, Geoffrey W. Stuart, Anne Castles, Ken I. McAnally

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    76 Citations (Scopus)


    It has been proposed that developmental dyslexia is associated with a deficit in the magnocellular pathway of the visual system. Other research focuses upon the heterogeneous nature of developmental dyslexia, and evidence that subgroups of dyslexia may be identified based on selective deficits in specific component reading skills. This study tested the hypothesis that visual processing deficits may be present in different subgroups of developmental dyslexia by comparing the visual contrast sensitivity of three subgroups of dyslexic children (phonological, surface and mixed) and controls. The stimulus designed to measure magnocellular visual function was a low spatial frequency Gaussian blob, flickered sinusoidally at a temporal frequency of 8.33 Hz. The control stimulus, designed to measure parvocellular visual function, was a relatively high spatial frequency Gaussian windowed grating (8 c/deg) slowly ramped on and off. There were no significant differences between the groups of dyslexic and control children in contrast sensitivity to either stimulus. The findings do not support the existence of a magnocellular system deficit in dyslexia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)467-477
    Number of pages11
    JournalVision Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003


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