Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Naming Abilities and Orthographic Recognition during Childhood an Event-Related Brain Potentials Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Naming Abilities and Orthographic Recognition during Childhood an Event-Related Brain Potentials Study

Article excerpt


Children with reading disabilities or dyslexia, commonly suffer disturbances in phonological awareness, slow-naming speed, and delayed automatic word recognition. A close relation between naming speed and reading difficulties has been well documented; hence, the former could be a useful early predictor of dyslexia. Reading disabled children usually show orthographic problems, but the neurophysiological basis underlying the detection of orthographic violations is still unclear. In this study, 28 healthy, right-handed, second-grade children were selected from a wider screening study and divided into two groups according to their performance on a rapid-naming test battery: slow-naming (SN) and average-naming (AN). Groups were matched by sex, age and school grade, and participants were asked to perform a visual recognition task that consisted of two stimuli: an easily-named drawing followed by a word that either matched (congruent) or did not match (on semantic or orthographic grounds) the drawing. Subjects were instructed to judge the relationship between each pair of stimuli and then press a key on a keyboard while ERP were being recorded. Behavioral results showed significant differences between groups in terms of the number of correct responses, but only for the orthographic violation condition, as no significant differences were observed in reaction times. In addition, SN showed poorer reading performance compared to AN. ERP were significantly different between the two groups during processing of visual words. Results are interpreted as the expression of the difficulties that SN manifested in generating strong associations between phonological and orthographic word forms.

Keywords: reading disabilities, naming speed, word recognition, orthographic processing, ERP, children

1. Introduction

There is agreement on the existence of a primary deficit in developmental dyslexia across languages that involves the neural representation of phonological structures in speech, and this notion has been well documented by several studies (Abrams, Nicol, Zecker, & Kraus, 2009; Bradley & Bryant, 1978; Denckla & Rudel, 1976; Meyler & Breznitz, 2005; Seki, Okada, Koeda, & Sadato, 2004; Wimmer, 1993). However, phonological deficits affect reading in different ways, depending on the orthography children must learn. Literacy problems are greater for dyslexic children who need to learn to read inconsistent orthographies (e.g., English) than for those who read consistent orthographies, such as Italian, German and Greek (Goswami, 2002).

Learning to read in Spanish seems to be less affected by phonological deficits, as previous reports on Spanish-speaking children have shown that reading speed is the core deficit manifested by dyslexies (Escribano, 2007; Serrano & Defior, 2008), while phonological deficits represent only a secondary problem.

Spanish is considered a language with regular orthography due to its high grapheme-phoneme correspondence. This regularity has an important effect on the speed at which children acquire reading skills: in regular orthographic systems such as Italian, German and Spanish, children typically reach optimal reading accuracy by the end of the first grade (Goswami, Gombert, & Fraca de Barrera, 1998; Landerl & Wimmer, 2008; Seymour, Aro, & Erskine, 2003), because learning of letter-sound associations proceeds rapidly. Goswami (2002) suggests that this might be because the mapping problem is less difficult: i.e., children have to learn to read consistent alphabetic orthographies with an open (consonant-vowel: CV) syllabic structure, where onset-rime segmentation is equivalent to phonemic segmentation (theoretically learned through literacy) for many words; in addition, one letter consistently maps to one phoneme. Though this is the case for reading in Spanish, writing is quite different, for some phonemes are mapped onto more than one letter and frequently result in the writing of pseudohomophones (words with an orthographic error but the same phonology as the correct one), or to recognition of a pseudohomophone as a valid word. …

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