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Automatic integration of letters and speech-sounds in typical reading development and dyslexia

Clayton, FJ; (2016) Automatic integration of letters and speech-sounds in typical reading development and dyslexia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Dyslexia is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties in the accurate and fluent decoding of printed words. The dominant theory of dyslexia argues that reading failures are caused by a phonological processing deficit, resulting in impaired phoneme awareness and problems learning letter-sound correspondences. In recent years researchers have proposed a novel theory of dyslexia. This theory, based on neuroimaging studies of Dutch children, suggests that problems learning to read arise from a specific deficit establishing automatic associations between letters and speech-sounds. Whilst many agree that letter-sound knowledge plays an important role in learning to read, the crucial aspect of this hypothesis concerns children’s ability to retrieve and apply this knowledge rapidly during reading. This thesis is one of the first studies to use behavioural measures to assess the contribution of automatic letter-sound integration in the reading performance of English-speaking children. A behavioural priming paradigm was used to measure automatic letter-sound integration. In this task, the participant is presented with a visual letter prime, followed by an auditory speech-sound target. The effect of the letter prime upon the processing of the speech-sound is examined in a number of studies, including a large cross-sectional study of typically developing children and a study involving children with dyslexia. Contrary to the hypothesis that dyslexia reflects a deficit in automatic letter-sound integration, the results from this research indicate that both dyslexic and typically developing children show automatic activation of speech-sounds from printed letters. Furthermore, the extent to which letters and speech-sounds are automatically integrated does not appear to predict variation in children’s reading performance. Rather, baseline performance on this task (simply deciding if a sound is speech or not) is predictive of reading performance, which is argued to provide further evidence of the importance of phonological skills for the development of decoding.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Automatic integration of letters and speech-sounds in typical reading development and dyslexia
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Dyslexia, Reading, Letter-sound knowledge, Automaticity, Orthography
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476253
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