[PS-2.11] Dyslexia and the role of phonotactics

Peretic, M. 1 , Matic, A. 2 , Palmovic, M. . 2 & Kovacevic, M. 2

1 Elementary school A B. ?imi?, Zagreb, Croatia
2 Department of Speech and Language Pathology, University of Zagreb

Dyslexia is generally categorized as a learning deficit regardless of different and competing theories. Even researchers who try to connect the cause of dyslexia to other systems (such as visual, motor) point out phonology as the primary locus of the deficit. Within the theory of phonological deficit, the main cause of dyslexia is language processing.
In this study we tried to relate learning deficit and language deficit through the notion of implicit learning exploring the well known fact that phonotactics is used by children for e.g. learning word boundaries or even morpheme boundaries. Specifically, the experiment explores the impact of phonotactic properties of words on reading in students with dyslexia The participant group consists of ten children with dyslexia (fourth-grade students) attending public elementary school. An eye-tracking study using the reading paradigm was conducted and different texts matched in length have been developed. The texts contain high frequency words whose phonotactic properties were manipulated, i.e. high and low phonotactic probability words were varied across conditions. The preliminary results indeed indicate higher processing costs for low phonotactic probability words and a more comprehensive analysis will explore the multitude of variables offered by the eye-tracker.