Neurolinguistic profiles of developmental dyslexia in a longitudinal perspective

Researcher: Ellie van Setten, former PhD student 

Thesis defense: January 10, 2019

First promotor: Prof. Ben Maassen, PhD (Dyslexia, RuG)

Collaborators: Prof. Aryan van der Leij, PhD (UvA, Amsterdam), Titia van Zuijen, PhD (UvA, Amsterdam), Britt Hakvoort, PhD (UvA, Amsterdam)

Funding: NWO-GW

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by severe problems with fast and / or accurate reading and / or spelling. Children from parents with dyslexia have a larger risk to develop dyslexia themselves. In this thesis it has been investigated how the reading skills of advanced readers with (a familial risk of) dyslexia can be characterized, predicted and explained. First of all, it has been found that dyslexia is a persistent disorder, that does not resolve in adolescence. When the grade 3 word reading score is known, a good prediction of grade 6 reading level can be made; for this prediction it does not matter whether or not a child has a familial risk. Children who have dyslexia in Dutch also have reading and spelling difficulties in English at secondary school. However, for children with dyslexia reading English words went better than expected based on their Dutch reading scores. Children with a familial risk without reading difficulties in Dutch did not have these difficulties in English either. Deficits in phonological and orthographic awareness, rapid naming and the visual attention span are often observed among children with dyslexia. However, not all children with dyslexia have the same deficits to the same extent. Therefore, there is no dyslexia-specific cognitive profile. In the brain, differences in the fast automatic visual processing of print were found among right-handed students with and without dyslexia. Among 12-year-old children such differences were not found, possibly because their brain is still developing.

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