Word Learning Deficits in Children With Dyslexia Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate word learning in children with dyslexia to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses during the configuration stage of word learning. Method Children with typical development (N = 116) and dyslexia (N = 68) participated in computer-based word learning games that ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 14, 2017
Word Learning Deficits in Children With Dyslexia
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Mary Alt
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Tiffany Hogan
    MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA
  • Samuel Green
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Shelley Gray
    Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Kathryn Cabbage
    MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston, MA
  • Nelson Cowan
    University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Mary Alt: malt@email.arizona.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie
    Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie×
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 14, 2017
Word Learning Deficits in Children With Dyslexia
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1012-1028. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0036
History: Received January 27, 2016 , Revised June 21, 2016 , Accepted October 28, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1012-1028. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0036
History: Received January 27, 2016; Revised June 21, 2016; Accepted October 28, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate word learning in children with dyslexia to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses during the configuration stage of word learning.

Method Children with typical development (N = 116) and dyslexia (N = 68) participated in computer-based word learning games that assessed word learning in 4 sets of games that manipulated phonological or visuospatial demands. All children were monolingual English-speaking 2nd graders without oral language impairment. The word learning games measured children's ability to link novel names with novel objects, to make decisions about the accuracy of those names and objects, to recognize the semantic features of the objects, and to produce the names of the novel words. Accuracy data were analyzed using analyses of covariance with nonverbal intelligence scores as a covariate.

Results Word learning deficits were evident for children with dyslexia across every type of manipulation and on 3 of 5 tasks, but not for every combination of task/manipulation. Deficits were more common when task demands taxed phonology. Visuospatial manipulations led to both disadvantages and advantages for children with dyslexia.

Conclusion Children with dyslexia evidence spoken word learning deficits, but their performance is highly dependent on manipulations and task demand, suggesting a processing trade-off between visuospatial and phonological demands.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health NIDCD Grant R01 DC010784. We are deeply grateful to the staff, research associates, school administrators, teachers, children, and families who participated. Key personnel included (in alphabetical order) Shara Brinkley, Gary Carstensen, Cecilia Figueroa, Karen Guilmette, Trudy Kuo, Bjorg LeSueur, Annelise Pesch, and Jean Zimmer. Many students also contributed to this work, including (in alphabetical order) Genesis Arizmendi, Lauren Baron, Alexander Brown, Nora Schlesinger, Nisha Talanki, and Hui-Chun Yang.
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