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Title: Automatic integration of letters and speech-sounds in typical reading development and dyslexia
Author: Clayton, F. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 4415
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Dyslexia is a developmental disorder characterised by difficulties in the accurate and fluent decoding of printed words. The dominant theory of dyslexia argues that reading failures are caused by a phonological processing deficit, resulting in impaired phoneme awareness and problems learning letter-sound correspondences. In recent years researchers have proposed a novel theory of dyslexia. This theory, based on neuroimaging studies of Dutch children, suggests that problems learning to read arise from a specific deficit establishing automatic associations between letters and speech-sounds. Whilst many agree that letter-sound knowledge plays an important role in learning to read, the crucial aspect of this hypothesis concerns children's ability to retrieve and apply this knowledge rapidly during reading. This thesis is one of the first studies to use behavioural measures to assess the contribution of automatic letter-sound integration in the reading performance of English-speaking children. A behavioural priming paradigm was used to measure automatic letter-sound integration. In this task, the participant is presented with a visual letter prime, followed by an auditory speech-sound target. The effect of the letter prime upon the processing of the speech-sound is examined in a number of studies, including a large cross-sectional study of typically developing children and a study involving children with dyslexia. Contrary to the hypothesis that dyslexia reflects a deficit in automatic letter-sound integration, the results from this research indicate that both dyslexic and typically developing children show automatic activation of speech-sounds from printed letters. Furthermore, the extent to which letters and speech-sounds are automatically integrated does not appear to predict variation in children's reading performance. Rather, baseline performance on this task (simply deciding if a sound is speech or not) is predictive of reading performance, which is argued to provide further evidence of the importance of phonological skills for the development of decoding.
Supervisor: Hulme, C. ; Price, C. J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available