Activation time-course of phonological code in silent word recognition in adult readers with and without dyslexia

Activation time-course of phonological code in silent word recognition in adult readers with and without dyslexia

First Author: Ambre Denis-Noël -- Aix-Marseille Université
Additional authors/chairs: 
Eric Castet; Chotiga Pattamadilok; Pascale Colé
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: In skilled readers (SR), reading words automatically activates orthographic, phonological, and semantic representations. Yet, recent findings suggest the activation time-course of phonological code in SR to depend on individual differences in semantic and phonological skills. In university students with dyslexia (DYS), phonological processing is impaired but findings explaining how these representations might be activated during reading are scarce and contradictory. This study investigated the activation time-course of phonological code during reading in these populations using eye-movements.
Method: 30 DYS and 30 SR performed a lexical decision task. SR were divided into two groups: 15 had better phonological decoding skills than vocabulary knowledge (“sublexical readers”), the 15 others showed the reverse pattern (“lexical readers”). 40 monosyllabic French words were selected: 20 were phonologically consistent (the rime had only one pronunciation like –uck in duck or luck), 20 were phonologically inconsistent (the rime had more than one possible pronunciation like –ough in tough and plough).
Results: DYS read slower than SR. When comparing first and later fixations, DYS showed a consistency effect during later fixations while SR taken as a whole group did not show this effect on any fixation type. Among SR, “sublexical readers” showed a marginally significant consistency effect during first fixations while no such effect was observed on any measure in “lexical readers”.
Conclusion: 1) In DYS, phonological code activation occurs during late processing stages. 2) In SR, “sublexical readers” tend to activate phonological code during early processing stages while “lexical readers” seemed to bypass phonological code’s activation.