Dyslexia and reasoning: The importance of visual processes

Alison M. Bacon, Simon J. Handley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent research has suggested that individuals with dyslexia rely on explicit visuospatial representations for syllogistic reasoning while most non-dyslexics opt for an abstract verbal strategy. This paper investigates the role of visual processes in relational reasoning amongst dyslexic reasoners. Expt 1 presents written and verbal protocol evidence to suggest that reasoners with dyslexia generate detailed representations of relational properties and use these to make a visual comparison of objects. Non-dyslexics use a linear array of objects to make a simple transitive inference. Expt 2 examined evidence for the visual-impedance effect which suggests that visual information detracts from reasoning leading to longer latencies and reduced accuracy. While non-dyslexics showed the impedance effects predicted, dyslexics showed only reduced accuracy on problems designed specifically to elicit imagery. Expt 3 presented problems with less semantically and visually rich content. The non-dyslexic group again showed impedance effects, but dyslexics did not. Furthermore, in both studies, visual memory predicted reasoning accuracy for dyslexic participants, but not for non-dyslexics, particularly on problems with highly visual content. The findings are discussed in terms of the importance of visual and semantic processes in reasoning for individuals with dyslexia, and we argue that these processes play a compensatory role, offsetting phonological and verbal memory deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-452
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume101
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

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