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Title: Magnocellular processing and reading ability : the effect of test sensitivity
Author: Sperring, Rachael
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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Research into reading difficulties is continuously evolving, with a plethora of suggested causes. Lovegrove, Heddle, and Slaghuis (1980) suggested that one such cause was an abnormality of the visual magnocellular system which can result in visual confusion in some people with reading difficulties. However, failure to replicate findings have led some to disregard the theory (Skottun, 2000). This controversy can in part be attributable to the range of processing levels within the visual system and the range of parameter levels that have been used by studies assessing magnocellular function. Consequently the aim of this research was to investigate the relationship between mag nocellular function and reading ability at varying levels of the visual system, under systematic variations in parameter levels and with varying methods of assessment, to identify the test that produces the most sensitive relationship between reading ability and magnocellular function in children. An investigation into Random Dot Kinematogram (RDK) parameter levels in Studies 1 and 2 found that an integration time threshold with a dot speed of 20• /s and a contrast of 4% accounted for the largest variance in reading ability. In Study 3, a comparison between RDK thresholds and the Frequency Doubling Illusion showed that both tests accounted for 8% of the variance in reading ability; however this was not significant after accounting for cognitive ability. Study 4 assessed fixation stability and RDK thresholds and found that neither accounted for signincant variance in reading ability. Since participants in Study 2 had completed 14 threshold trials compared to 2 in Study 3 and 4, it was concluded that an RDK measuring integration time employing a dot speed of 20◦ /s and a contrast of 4% and with extensive practice was the most sensitive measure. However the level of practice needed meant this could not be considered a "gold standard" test .
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available