[TS-2.2] No deficiency in left-to-right processing of words in dyslexia but evidence for enhanced visual crowding

Callens, M. 1 , Whitney, C. 2 , Tops, W. 1 & Brysbaert, M. 1

1 University Ghent
2 University of Maryland

Whitney and Cornelissen (2005) hypothesized that dyslexia may be the result of problems with the left-to-right processing of words, particularly in the part of the word between the word beginning and the reader?s fixation position. To test this hypothesis, we tachistoscopically presented consonant trigrams in the left and the right visual field (LVF, RVF) to 20 undergraduate students with dyslexia and 20 matched controls. The trigrams were presented at different locations (from -2.5° to + 2.5°) in both visual half fields. Participants were asked to identify the letters and accuracy rates were compared. In line with the predictions of the SERIOL model of visual word recognition (Whitney (2001), a typical U-shaped pattern was found at all retinal locations. Accuracy also decreased the further away the stimulus was from the fixation location, with a steeper decrease in the LVF than in the RVF. Contrary to the hypothesis, the students with dyslexia showed the same pattern of results as the control participants, also in the LVF, apart from a slightly lower accuracy rate, particularly for the central letter. The latter is in line with the possibility of enhanced crowding in dyslexia. In addition, in the dyslexia group but not in the control group the degree of crowding correlated significantly with the students? word reading scores. These findings suggest that lateral inhibition between letters is associated with word reading performance in students with dyslexia.