Inhibitory control during sentence reading in dyslexic children

M. van der Schoot, R. Licht, T.M. Horsley, L.T. Aarts, B. van Koert, J.A. Sergeant

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Abstract

The present study focused on the nature of the reading disability of children with the guessing subtype of dyslexia (who read fast and inaccurately). The objective was to separate the excitatory account of their reading disturbance (i.e., in guessers the words' resting levels of activation are oversensitive to semantic context) from the inhibitory account (i.e., guessers tend to react prematurely to (false) candidate words that are activated in the lexicon). To disentangle the above accounts, guessers and normal readers were presented with a sentential priming task (SPT). In the SPT, subjects had to determine whether the final word of a sentence was semantically congruent or incongruent with the sentence, but had to inhibit their 'congruent' or 'incongruent' response in case of an occasionally presented pseudoword. To evoke guessing, each pseudoword closely resembled either a valid congruent or incongruent word. Guessing referred to prematurely accepting a pseudoword as a word that either appropriately or inappropriately completed the sentence. The extent to which subjects guessed at word meaning was evidenced by the false recognition rates (FRR) of the misspelled terminal words. Analyses on the FRRs of the pseudowords showed that guessers had significantly more difficulty in suppressing the 'go tendency' triggered by the pseudowords. It was concluded that the impulsive reading style of guessers should be ascribed to a less efficient suppression mechanism rather than to excessive reliance on contextual information. Specifically, the data were explained by assuming that the availability of the pseudoword's candidate meaning activated the hand to respond with, and that guessers found difficulty in suspending this response until they analyzed all letters in the stimulus and they could be sure of its spelling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages17
JournalChild Neuropsychology
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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