Cognitive antecedents of early reading ability: A test of the modularity hypothesis

Evelyn Shatil, David L. Share

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This study tested the hypothesis that the cognitive antecedents of word recognition are uniquely domain-specific and unrelated to higher-order domain-general cognitive abilities. This hypothesis was evaluated in a longitudinal study of 349 Hebrew-speaking children (mean age: 6.0 years) who were tested on a battery of domain-specific (phonological awareness, phonological memory, visual-orthographic processing, and early literacy) and domain-general tasks (general intelligence, higher-order reasoning, and language) at the end of kindergarten. Word recognition and reading comprehension were assessed at the end of Grade 1. Whereas the kindergarten domain-specific measures accounted for significant and substantial variance in word recognition (33%), the domain-general measures explained only 5% of the variance. Furthermore, the contribution of domain-specific variables to word recognition remained unaltered even after controlling for all domain-general and higher-order language tasks. Reading comprehension, in contrast, was predicted by both print-specific skills (51%) and domain-general abilities (44%). These findings strongly support the notion of word recognition modularity in a well-encapsulated orthography.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-31
    Number of pages31
    JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003


    • Comprehension
    • Hebrew
    • Modularity
    • Prediction
    • Reading
    • Specificity
    • Word recognition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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