History and significance of rapid automatized naming
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In this review, the origins and history of a test of rapid automatized naming (RAN) are traced from nineteenth-century classical brain-behavior analyses of cases of acquired “alexia without agraphia” through adaptations to studies of normal and reading disabled children. The element of speed (of responding verbally to a visual stimulus) was derived from a test of color naming developed over 50 years ago as a bedside measure of recovery from brain injuries. Merging the “visual-verbal” connection essential to reading (specific) with the response time element (general), RAN turned out to be a useful correlate and predictor of reading competence, accounting even for variance beyond that accounted for by timed tests of discrete naming. As one of the two deficits highlighted in the Double Deficit hypothesis with phonological awareness, RAN has emerged as something more than a particularly difficult challenge to a unitary phonological retrieval deficit, and has itself been subjected to further dissection. Coming full circle to its origins, recent research suggests that RAN taps both visual-verbal (language domain) and processing speed (executive domain) contributions to reading.