, Volume 14, Issue 7-8, pp 707-755

Comparing the phonological and double deficit hypotheses for developmental dyslexia

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This study tested the predictions of thephonological and double deficit hypotheses byexperimentally examining speech perception,phoneme awareness, lexical retrieval (serialand discrete), articulatory speed, and verbalSTM in school age child (N = 35) and adolescent(N = 36) dyslexics, and both chronological age(CA) and reading age (RA) controls. Theresults confirmed the findings of previousstudies of a deficit in phoneme awareness indevelopmental dyslexia. At both age levels,dyslexics performed significantly more poorlythan both their CA and RA controls. Althoughdeficits in the other processes investigated,particularly in rapid serial naming, were alsoapparent, they were not as clear-cut as thedeficit in phoneme awareness. In general,definite evidence of a deficit in rapid serialnaming was limited to the more severelyimpaired dyslexics. Furthermore, although rapidserial naming contributed independent variationto various literacy skills, its contributionwas modest relative to the contribution ofphoneme awareness, regardless of whether theliteracy skill relied more or less heavily onphonological or orthographic coding skills. Further analyses suggested that variation inrapid serial skill is particularly importantfor fluent reading of text, whereas phonemeawareness is particularly important for thedevelopment of the ability to read byphonologically recoding letters or groups ofletters in words into their phonological codes.This explains the relatively strongcontribution of phoneme awareness to readingand spelling ability in general. In sum, thephonological hypothesis offers a moreparsimonious account of the present resultsthan the double deficit hypothesis.