Selective impairments in covert shifts of attention in Chinese dyslexic children

Yun Ding, Jing Zhao, Tao He, Yufei Tan, Lingshuang Zheng, Zhiguo Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Reading depends heavily on the efficient shift of attention. Mounting evidence has suggested that dyslexics have deficits in covert attentional shift. However, it remains unclear whether dyslexics also have deficits in overt attentional shift. With the majority of relevant studies carried out in alphabetic writing systems, it is also unknown whether the attentional deficits observed in dyslexics are restricted to a particular writing system. The present study examined inhibition of return (IOR)—a major driving force of attentional shifts—in dyslexic children learning to read a logographic script (i.e., Chinese). Robust IOR effects were observed in both covert and overt attentional tasks in two groups of typically developing children, who were age- or reading ability-matched to the dyslexic children. In contrast, the dyslexic children showed IOR in the overt but not in the covert attentional task. We conclude that covert attentional shift is selectively impaired in dyslexic children. This impairment is not restricted to alphabetic writing systems, and it could be a significant contributor to the difficulties encountered by children learning to read.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-378
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • attention
  • developmental dyslexia
  • Posner cueing task
  • visual search
  • eye movements
  • inhibition of return

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    Ding, Y., Zhao, J., He, T., Tan, Y., Zheng, L., & Wang, Z. (2016). Selective impairments in covert shifts of attention in Chinese dyslexic children. Dyslexia, 22(4), 362-378.