Blog Archives

The relationship between gross motor skills and academic achievement in children with learning disabilities

The present study compared the gross motor skills of 7- to 12-year-old children with learning disabilities (n = 104) with those of age-matched typically developing children (n = 104) using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Additionally, the specific relationships between subsets of gross motor skills and academic performance in reading, spelling, and mathematics were examined in children with learning disabilities. As expected, the children with learning disabilities scored poorer on both the locomotor and object-control subtests than their typically developing peers. Furthermore, in children with learning disabilities a specific relationship was observed between reading and locomotor skills and a trend was found for a relationship between mathematics and object-control skills: the larger children’s learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. This study stresses the importance of specific interventions facilitating both motor and academic abilities.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Effectiveness of a metaphonological and reading remediation program for students with learning difficulties

CONCLUSION: The findings evidence the effectiveness of the computerized metaphonological and reading remediation program developed for this study, since the students with learning difficulties submitted to the remediation program developed the metaphonological abilities required for reading development.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Neural circuitry associated with two different approaches to novel word learning

Skilled reading depends upon successfully integrating orthographic, phonological, and semantic information; however, the process of becoming a skilled reader with efficient neural circuitry is not fully understood. Short-term learning paradigms can provide insight into learning mechanisms by revealing differential responses to training approaches. To date, neuroimaging studies have primarily focused on effects of teaching novel words either in isolation or in context, without directly comparing the two. The current study compared the behavioral and neurobiological effects of learning novel pseudowords (i.e., pronouncing and attaching meaning) trained either in isolation or in sentential context. Behavioral results showed generally comparable pseudoword learning for both conditions, but sentential context-trained pseudowords were spoken and comprehended slightly more quickly. Neurobiologically, fMRI activity for reading trained pseudowords was similar to real words; however, an interaction between training approach and reading proficiency was observed. Specifically, highly skilled readers showed similar levels of activity regardless of training approach. However, less skilled readers differentiated between training conditions, showing comparable activity to highly skilled readers only for isolation-trained pseudowords. Overall, behavioral and neurobiological findings suggest that training approach may affect rate of learning and neural circuitry, and that less skilled readers may need explicit training to develop optimal neural pathways.

from Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Brain networks associated with sublexical properties of Chinese characters

Cognitive models of reading all assume some division of labor among processing pathways in mapping among print, sound and meaning. Many studies of the neural basis of reading have used task manipulations such as rhyme or synonym judgment to tap these processes independently. Here we take advantage of specific properties of the Chinese writing system to test how differential availability of sublexical information about sound and meaning, as well as the orthographic structure of characters, pseudo-characters and “artificial” control stimuli influence brain activation in the context of the same one-back task. Analyses combine a data-driven approach that identifies temporally coherent patterns of activity over the course of the entire experiment with hypothesis-testing based on the correlation of these patterns with predictors for different stimulus classes. The results reveal a large network of task-related activity. Both the extent of this network and activity in regions commonly observed in studies of Chinese reading are apparently related to task difficulty. Other regions, including temporo-parietal cortex, were sensitive to particular sublexical functional units in mapping among print, sound, and meaning.

from Brain and Language

Modulation of the motor system during visual and auditory language processing

Studies of embodied cognition have demonstrated the engagement of the motor system when people process action-related words and concepts. However, research using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to examine linguistic modulation in primary motor cortex has produced inconsistent results. Some studies report that action words produce an increase in corticospinal excitability; others, a decrease. Given the differences in methodology and modality, we re-examined this issue, comparing conditions in which participants either read or listened to the same set of action words. In separate blocks of trials, participants were presented with lists of words in the visual and auditory modality, and a TMS pulse was applied over left motor cortex, either 150 or 300 ms after the word onset. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) elicited were larger following the presentation of action words compared with control words. However, this effect was only observed when the words were presented visually; no changes in MEPs were found when the words were presented auditorily. A review of the TMS literature on action word processing reveals a similar modality effect on corticospinal excitability. We discuss different hypotheses that might account for this differential modulation of action semantics by vision and audition.

from Experimental Brain Research

What is the scanpath signature of syntactic reanalysis?

Which repair strategy does the language system deploy when it gets garden-pathed, and what can regressive eye movements in reading tell us about reanalysis strategies? Several influential eye-tracking studies on syntactic reanalysis ([Frazier and Rayner, 1982], [Meseguer et al., 2002] and [Mitchell et al., 2008]) have addressed this question by examining scanpaths, i.e., sequential patterns of eye fixations. However, in the absence of a suitable method for analyzing scanpaths, these studies relied on simplified dependent measures that are arguably ambiguous and hard to interpret. We address the theoretical question of repair strategy by developing a new method that quantifies scanpath similarity. Our method reveals several distinct fixation strategies associated with reanalysis that went undetected in a previously published data set (Meseguer et al., 2002). One prevalent pattern suggests re-parsing of the sentence, a strategy that has been discussed in the literature (Frazier & Rayner, 1982); however, readers differed tremendously in how they orchestrated the various fixation strategies. Our results suggest that the human parsing system non-deterministically adopts different strategies when confronted with the disambiguating material in garden-path sentences.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

What Factors Place Children With Speech Sound Disorders at Risk for Reading Problems?

Conclusions: The present study makes a significant theoretical contribution to the literature as the first study, to our knowledge, that has tested the hypothesis that weaknesses in representation-related phonological processing may underlie the difficulties in phonological awareness and reading that are demonstrated by children with SSDs.

from American Journal of Speech Language Pathology

Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology

The accurate perception of metrical structure may be critical for phonological development and consequently for the development of literacy. Difficulties in metrical processing are associated with basic auditory rise time processing difficulties, suggesting a primary sensory impairment in developmental dyslexia in tracking the lower-frequency modulations in the speech envelope.

from Cortex

Music, rhythm, rise time perception and developmental dyslexia: Perception of musical meter predicts reading and phonology

Rhythm organises musical events into patterns and forms, and rhythm perception in music is usually studied by using metrical tasks. Metrical structure also plays an organisational function in the phonology of language, via speech prosody, and there is evidence for rhythmic perceptual difficulties in developmental dyslexia. Here we investigate the hypothesis that the accurate perception of musical metrical structure is related to basic auditory perception of rise time, and also to phonological and literacy development in children.

from Cortex

Phonemic awareness and literacy acquisition

This review focuses on phonological awareness (PA) skills and their key role both in literacy acquisition and development and in explaining reading and writing difficulties; in particular, we focus on phonemic awareness, which implies awareness of the smallest speech units. Several questions about PA are addressed; we discuss major research findings over the past few decades both in typically developing children and children with dyslexia, mainly carried out in Spanish. We also discuss the development of PA and how children’s implicit knowledge of speech sounds progresses into explicit knowledge through kindergarten games and other experiences with oral language and, especially, when children start to learn how to read and write. This process is not free of difficulties, given the phenomenon of coarticulation. This step signifies the development of distinct levels of PA skills, which predict reading and writing acquisition. Additionally, the difficulties of dyslexic children in PA tasks are discussed; these difficulties are more evident in speed processing than in accuracy. Finally, the present article reviews issues that should be taken into account when PA tasks are designed both for assessment and intervention. Practical implications for effective intervention for the development and enhancement of PA skills are discussed.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

Formal literacy of first and second grade students of a public elementary school

CONCLUSION: Second grade had better results than first grade. The results were more significant in subtests that required deeper understanding of the phoneme-grapheme association and vice-versa, suggesting that school literacy is necessary when social literacy is not present.

from Revista de Sociedade Brasileira de Fonoaudiologia

Domain-specific Rapid Automatized Naming deficits in children at risk for learning disabilities

Performance in Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) tasks with different materials (dice, digits, letters, objects) and key precursor skills of reading and arithmetic were assessed in kindergarten children (n = 541) in their last year before entering elementary school. Based on their precursor skills, three groups of children were identified, i.e. children at risk for reading problems (n = 31), children at risk for arithmetic problems (n = 39), and children at risk for problems in both domains (n = 34). These at-risk children were compared to a control group (n = 343) regarding their performance in the different RAN tasks. Results revealed domain-specific deficits in both groups of children with a single risk: While children at risk for problems in reading exhibited deficits in the RAN of letters and objects, children at risk for problems in arithmetic showed deficits in the RAN of dice and digits. The group of children at risk for problems in both domains displayed additive, domain-general deficits. Findings are discussed in the context of behavioral and neurocognitive research on reading and mathematical disabilities.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

Unification of sentence processing via ear and eye: An fMRI study

We present new evidence based on fMRI for the existence and neural architecture of an abstract supramodal language system that can integrate linguistic inputs arising from different modalities such that speech and print each activate a common code. Working with sentence material, our aim was to find out where the putative supramodal system is located and how it responds to comprehension challenges. To probe these questions we examined BOLD activity in experienced readers while they performed a semantic categorization task with matched written or spoken sentences that were either well-formed or contained anomalies of syntactic form or pragmatic content. On whole-brain scans, both anomalies increased net activity over non-anomalous baseline sentences, chiefly at left frontal and temporal regions of heteromodal cortex. The anomaly-sensitive sites correspond approximately to those that previous studies () have found to be sensitive to other differences in sentence complexity (object relative minus subject relative). Regions of interest (ROIs) were defined by peak response to anomaly averaging over modality conditions. Each anomaly-sensitive ROI showed the same pattern of response across sentence types in each modality. Voxel-by-voxel exploration over the whole brain based on a cosine similarity measure of common function confirmed the specificity of supramodal zones.

from Cortex

Is developmental dyslexia modality specific? A visual auditory comparison of Italian dyslexics

Although developmental dyslexia is often referred to as a cross-modal disturbance, tests of different modalities using the same stimuli are lacking. We compared the performance of 23 children with dyslexia and 42 chronologically matched control readers on reading versus repetition tasks and visual versus auditory lexical decision using the same stimuli. With respect to control readers, children with dyslexia were impaired only on stimuli in the visual modality; they had no deficit on the repetition and auditory lexical decision tasks. By applying the rate-amount model (Faust et al., 1999), we showed that performance of children with dyslexia on visual (but not auditory) tasks was associated with that of control readers by a linear relationship (with a 1.78 slope), suggesting that a global factor accounts for visual (but not auditory) task performance.

from Neuropsychologia

Effect of phonetic complexity on word reading and repetition in deep dyslexia

This investigation moves beyond the traditional studies of word reading to identify how the production complexity of words affects reading accuracy in an individual with deep dyslexia (JO). We examined JO’s ability to read words aloud while manipulating both the production complexity of the words and the semantic context. The classification of words as either phonetically simple or complex was based on the Index of Phonetic Complexity. The semantic context was varied using a semantic blocking paradigm (i.e., semantically blocked and unblocked conditions). In the semantically blocked condition words were grouped by semantic categories (e.g., table, sit, seat, couch), whereas in the unblocked condition the same words were presented in a random order. JO’s performance on reading aloud was also compared to her performance on a repetition task using the same items. Results revealed a strong interaction between word complexity and semantic blocking for reading aloud but not for repetition. JO produced the greatest number of errors for phonetically complex words in semantically blocked condition. This interaction suggests that semantic processes are constrained by output production processes which are exaggerated when derived from visual rather than auditory targets. This complex relationship between orthographic, semantic, and phonetic processes highlights the need for word recognition models to explicitly account for production processes.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics