Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 645–671 | Cite as

Behavioral and neurophysiological effects of morphological awareness training on spelling and reading

  • Silvana Weiss
  • Roland H. Grabner
  • Reinhard Kargl
  • Christian Purgstaller
  • Andreas Fink


Behavioral and neurophysiological effects of a computer-aided morphological training protocol were examined in German-speaking children from Grades 3 to 9. Study 1 compared morphological awareness, reading, and spelling skills of 34 trained children with an untrained control group of 34 children matched for age, sex, and intelligence. All participants in the training group showed increases in morphological awareness, but only students from secondary school improved significantly in reading and spelling competences. In Study 2, a subsample of 8 trained children with poor spelling and reading abilities and 10 untrained children with higher language competencies underwent an electroencephalography testing involving three different language tasks. The training resulted in decreased theta-activity and increased activity in lower (7–10 Hz) and upper alpha (10–13 Hz). These findings reflect more effortful and attention-demanding processing after the training and suggest that children with poor spelling and reading abilities use the acquired morphological knowledge in terms of a compensatory strategy.


Morphological training Compensatory strategy Spelling Reading EEG Reading and spelling development 



The authors wish to express their large gratitude to Klaus Feichtinger, Anna Kanape, Silvia Kofler, and Nadja Kozel for organizing and conducting the EEG-test-sessions with great engagement and Mathias Benedek for programming the EEG-paradigm. Furthermore, we want to thank teachers, parents, and children for participating in the study. Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the anonymous reviewers and Anna Kanape for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvana Weiss
    • 1
  • Roland H. Grabner
    • 1
  • Reinhard Kargl
    • 2
  • Christian Purgstaller
    • 2
  • Andreas Fink
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Behavioral Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute for Reading and Spelling GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of GrazGrazAustria

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