Fraga González, G. 1 , Zaric, G. 3, 4 , Bonte, M. 3, 4 , Blomert, L. 3, 4 , Jurgen, T. 1, 2 & van der Molen, M. 1
1 Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 IWAL Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3 Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands
4 Maastricht Brain Imaging Center (M-BIC), Maastricht, The Netherlands
The specialization of visual areas for fast processing of printed words plays an important role in the acquisition of reading skills. Differences in the development of these neural processes may be among the deficits underlying developmental dyslexia. The present study looks at the word activation specificity in dyslexic children in 3rd grade by comparing early components of brain potentials elicited by visually presented words or string of meaningless letter-like symbols. The aim is to explore the level of word specific activation after the first two years of reading and, most importantly, how dyslexics and normal readers differ at this stage of reading development. A sample of 40 children with the diagnosis of dyslexia and 20 control readers with ages between 8 and 9 year old were recruited and both behavioral and ERP measurements were taken. Preliminary results show a more pronounced N1 component for words compared to symbols for both groups. In contrast to previous findings, the dyslexic group showed larger left-lateralized and word-specific N1 responses than the normal reading group, suggesting that the interpretation of this early word specific response may be more complicated than previously assumed. The results will be discussed with special reference to the visual features of letters vs. symbols and the relation of the N1 differences with several behavioral measurements will be further examined.