When transparency is opaque: Effects of diacritic marks and vowel letters on dyslexic Hebrew readers

Yael Weiss, Tami Katzir, Tali Bitan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study examined the effects of orthographic transparency and familiarity on brain mechanisms involved in word recognition in adult dyslexic Hebrew readers. We compared functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) brain activation in 21 dyslexic readers and 22 typical readers, and examined the effects of diacritic marks that provide transparent but less familiar information and vowel letters that increase orthographic transparency without compromising familiarity. Dyslexic readers demonstrated reduced activation in left supramarginal gyrus (SMG) as compared to typical readers, as well as different patterns of activation within the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Furthermore, in contrast to typical readers, dyslexic readers did not show increased activation for diacritics in left temporo-parietal junction regions, associated with mapping orthography to phonology. Nevertheless, both groups showed the facilitation effect of vowel letters on regions associated with lexical-semantic access. Altogether the results suggest that while typical readers can compensate for the reduced familiarity of pointed words with increased reliance on decoding of smaller units, dyslexic readers do not, and therefore they show a higher cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation under grant 1142/11 to Bitan and Katzir; and NetWords under grant 09-RNP-089 to Weiss.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Dyslexia
  • Familiarity
  • Orthographic transparency
  • Phonology
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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