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Disentangling Dyslexia

Phonological and Processing Deficit in Developmental Dyslexia


Maria Vender

Beyond the well-known reading and spelling difficulties, dyslexic individuals exhibit marked phonological disorders, poor lexical retrieval and problems in the comprehension and production of grammatical structures that are particularly expensive in terms of processing costs. To account for these difficulties, the author presents an original hypothesis, proposing that dyslexia is related to a working memory inefficiency, affecting in particular the subject’s phonological skills and executive functions. The results of four experimental protocols, assessing dyslexic children’s working memory and their ability to interpret scalar implicatures, negative sentences and pronominal expressions, are presented and discussed in this volume. Consistent with the hypothesis outlined in this book, the results of the four studies show that dyslexics underperformed in comparison to age-matched controls and even to younger children in tasks requiring good phonological and processing abilities.

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Chapter 2. Developmental Dyslexia: Theoretical Perspectives


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Chapter 2

Developmental Dyslexia: Theoretical Perspectives

1.     Introduction

The first speculations on developmental dyslexia are relatively recent: they date back to the nineteenth century, when some scholars began to study the cases of patients who lost their reading skills after a brain insult. The term “dyslexia”, in fact, was coined in 1872 by the German physician Rudolf Berlin to describe the pathology of an adult affected by a sudden loss of reading ability, due to a brain lesion. The label “dyslexia” was then used to refer to an acquired disorder that was neurological in origin, since it was caused by a cerebral trauma.

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