[PS-2.6] Language structure and reading strategies adopted by normal and dyslexic readers in an inconsistent orthography: an eye-tracking study

Antalek, C. , de Haan, D. B. & Wydell, P. T.

Brunel University London

According to the Simple View of Reading (SVR; Hoover & Gough, 1990), reading variation can be account for by two skills; decoding and linguistic comprehension. However, these skills should be considered in the context of orthography. The Hypothesis of Granularity and Transparency (Wydell & Butterworth, 1999) asserts that the prevalence of phonological dyslexia is higher in languages with inconsistent orthographies and when the smallest units of sound are phonemes (e.g., English). English dyslexics are known to have poor decoding skills, which may cause them to engage in compensatory eye-movement patterns during reading.
This study investigated whether adult dyslexics engage in unique eye-movement patterns when reading sentences for meaning compared to controls, and to measure their reading abilities under the SVR model. Eye-movements were recorded using an eye-tracker and reading abilities were measured using subtests from the Woodcock-Muñoz Language-Survey III.
Dyslexic readers exhibited significantly shorter fixation durations, with more backward/forward saccades and fixations, and longer reading times than controls. The SVR accounted for over half of the variation (r2= 0.606 for control; r2= 0.626 for dyslexics) in reading comprehension.
These results thus indicate that dyslexics exhibit shorter, but more frequent fixations with more regressions. These findings have diagnostic and educational implications.