Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 63–84 | Cite as

Phonemic—Morphemic dissociation in university students with dyslexia: an index of reading compensation?

  • Eddy CavalliEmail author
  • Lynne G. Duncan
  • Carsten Elbro
  • Abdessadek El Ahmadi
  • Pascale ColéEmail author


A phonological deficit constitutes a primary cause of developmental dyslexia, which persists into adulthood and can explain some aspects of their reading impairment. Nevertheless, some dyslexic adults successfully manage to study at university level, although very little is currently known about how they achieve this. The present study investigated at both the individual and group levels, whether the development of another oral language skill, namely, morphological knowledge, can be preserved and dissociated from the development of phonological knowledge. Reading, phonological, and morphological abilities were measured in 20 dyslexic and 20 non-dyslexic university students. The results confirmed the persistence of deficits in phonological but not morphological abilities, thereby revealing a dissociation in the development of these two skills. Moreover, the magnitude of the dissociation correlated with reading level. The outcome supports the claim that university students with dyslexia may compensate for phonological weaknesses by drawing on morphological knowledge in reading.


Dissociation Morpheme awareness Phoneme awareness University students with dyslexia 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Jennifer Martin for having allowed us to use her materials and Mélody Zira for her help in testing participants. In addition, we would like to thank all the participants in this study. Special thanks are due to Professor John R. Crawford for giving us permission to use and disseminate his single-case study method. Finally, we would also like to thank Florence Poracchia-George (CERTA, Salvator Hospital Marseille, France) for helping with the recruitment of dyslexic participants.


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix-Marseille Université, LPC, CNRSMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeScotlandUK
  3. 3.Centre for Reading ResearchUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Aix-Marseille Université, LNIA, CNRSMarseilleFrance

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