Word learning deficits in children with dyslexia

Mary Alt, Tiffany Hogan, Samuel Green, Shelley Gray, Kathryn Cabbage, Nelson Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate word learning in children with dyslexia to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses during the configuration stage of word learning. Method: Children with typical development (N = 116) and dyslexia (N = 68) participated in computer-based word learning games that assessed word learning in 4 sets of games that manipulated phonological or visuospatial demands. All children were monolingual English-speaking 2nd graders without oral language impairment. The word learning games measured children’s ability to link novel names with novel objects, to make decisions about the accuracy of those names and objects, to recognize the semantic features of the objects, and to produce the names of the novel words. Accuracy data were analyzed using analyses of covariance with nonverbal intelligence scores as a covariate. Results: Word learning deficits were evident for children with dyslexia across every type of manipulation and on 3 of 5 tasks, but not for every combination of task/ manipulation. Deficits were more common when task demands taxed phonology. Visuospatial manipulations led to both disadvantages and advantages for children with dyslexia. Conclusion: Children with dyslexia evidence spoken word learning deficits, but their performance is highly dependent on manipulations and task demand, suggesting a processing trade-off between visuospatial and phonological demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1028
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Word learning deficits in children with dyslexia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this