How Do Adults with Dyslexia Recognize Spoken Words? Evidence from Behavioral and EEG Data


  • Denis-Noël Ambre
  • Colé Pascale
  • Bolger Deirdre
  • Pattamadilok Chotiga


  • Adults with dyslexia
  • Spoken word recognition
  • Auditory lexical decision
  • EEG
  • Lexicality effect
  • N400

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Purpose: In adults with dyslexia (DYS), the persistent influence of phonological deficits on spoken language processing has mainly been examined in either perceptual tasks or those tapping complex cognitive operations. Much less attention is devoted to spoken word recognition per se. Our study aimed to fill this gap. Method: Adults with and without dyslexia (for both groups: N = 30, mean age = 21 years, 50% female, 100% white European) performed an auditory lexical decision task. Performance and ERP were recorded. Results: Reaction times showed a lexicality effect in both groups although they differed in ERP responses to stimulus lexicality. Skilled readers showed the typical amplitude enhancement for pseudowords compared to words in a late phase of N400 (414-581msec) whereas DYS showed the opposite pattern in an earlier phase of N400 (246-413msec). Both groups showed a stronger negativity during pseudowords processing in the late postlexical stage (582-800msec). Conclusions: ERP data showed subtle differences between the two populations during the lexical stage of word recognition despite their comparable behavioral outcomes. We hypothesized that a stronger reliance on intact semantic knowledge might contribute to the general enhanced and sustained ERP responses to words in DYS across different phases of lexical processing, although confirmation is needed.

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