Reading fluency in normally developed and dyslexic reading: How importtant is Parafoveal versus Foveal processing

Project Details

Layman's description

Fluent reading is the hallmark of a “skilled” reader, but some people with developmental dyslexia never manage to achieve effortless, fluent reading, despite normal IQ and no obvious socioeconomic obstacles to reading development. We examined which factors determine how fluently normally developing and dyslexic readers are able to read.

Key findings

Dyslexic readers are known to have difficulties in fluent reading. Our project examined how dyslexic readers process potentially confusable information both when it was not explicitly fixated (in parafoveal vision), and when it was explicitly fixated (in foveal vision). We established that dyslexic readers have difficulty with both information that is potentially confusable in terms of its visual appearance (‘orthography’; e.g., letters that look similar such as p and q) and information that is potentially confusable in terms of its sound (‘phonology’; e.g., letters that sound similar such as k and q). Specifically, our results suggest that there are two sources of fluency impairment in dyslexia: orthographic processing in the parafovea, and a multi-modal deficit involving articulatory planning/execution in the fovea. We also found that the fluency deficit in dyslexia involves a general access problem encompassing processing relating to meaning, rather than a specific deficit in accessing information relating to sound (phonology). Other key results include the finding that dyslexic readers use central processing resources when reading via both lexical and phonological routes (i.e., irregular and regular words), whereas non-dyslexic readers can read via both routes automatically. Finally, we found a that dyslexic readers have an impairment in ‘binding’, or associating together, visual and auditory information in memory, which may contribute to their difficulty in establishing correspondences between printed symbols and sounds.
Effective start/end date1/08/0931/07/10


  • ESRC: £100,076.00


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