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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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This book is an extended version of my PhD Dissertation at the University of Verona, which was submitted and defended in the spring of 2011. Although the general structure of the dissertation is preserved, several modifications have been added, thanks to the many constructive comments and suggestions that I have received in these years.

I am very grateful to Denis Delfitto, my thesis advisor, who always supported my work, encouraging me to follow my intuitions, and who suggested me to transform my dissertation in this book: significant parts of it are based on joint work with him.

Writing this book has proven to be a big challenge and a valuable experience, to which I devoted most of my time, energies and passion. As every small and great challenge, this work would not have been possible without the precious help of many people. I am very obliged to Chiara Melloni, who supported me in the idea to publish this book, offering constant help and mindful suggestions. A special thank you also to my colleagues, Federica Mantione and Maria Scappini, and to all the people who have assisted me in this adventure and during the PhD, discussing and supporting my projects and ideas with interesting comments and suggestions: Birgit Alber, Adriana Belletti, Pier Marco Bertinetto, Camilla Bettoni, Sibilla Cantarini, Roberto Cubelli, Elise de Bree, Maria Teresa Guasti, Gaetano Fiorin, Francesca Forza, Giorgio Graffi, Shenai Hu, Karin Martin, Elena Menegazzo, Jacques Moeschler, Paola Paradisi, Stefan Rabanus Anne...

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