Speed of Phonological and Orthographic Processing as Factors in Dyslexia: Electrophysiological Evidence

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    The author investigated the hypothesis that speed of processing in the phonological and orthographic systems is one of the underlying variables of word-reading effectiveness. Speed of processing was assessed using measures of behavioral reaction time and electrophysiological latencies during phonological and orthographic task performance. Participants were 20 dyslexic and 20 normal-reading, male college students. An electrophysiological component complex (N1-P2-N2), as well as 2 other components (P3 and N4), was identified in both groups on each of the experimental tasks. Significant group differences were obtained only on the phonological tasks. Speed of processing during phonological judgment tasks was significantly prolonged among the dyslexic readers compared with the controls as reflected by P2, P3, and N4 latencies and reaction time. Between-task comparisons revealed significantly prolonged P2, P3, and N4 latencies on phonological compared with orthographic tasks in both dyslexic and normal readers, indicating that phonological classification of words may demand more time than orthographic classification. However, the gap score between speed of processing on the phonological and orthographic tasks was larger among the dyslexic readers and was observed mainly in P3 latency and reaction time. The highest correlation between word-reading accuracy score and the experimental measures was obtained in the dyslexic group with P3 latency gap score and in the control group with P2 latency gap score. The author proposes that slow phonological processing may cause "asynchrony" between the processing speeds within and between phonological and orthographic systems and may lead to a lack of efficient integration among the various subprocesses activated in reading, may slow down reading rate, and may impair word-reading effectiveness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)183-206
    Number of pages24
    JournalGenetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 2003


    • Adults
    • Brain activity
    • Dyslexia
    • Electrophysiology
    • Event-related potential
    • Orthographic processing
    • Phonological processing
    • Word reading

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • General Psychology
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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