Sebastián Aravena will present his dissertation on Thursday 13 April 2017. A short summary of his project can be found below:
Letter-speech sound learning in children with dyslexia: From behavioral research to clinical practice
In alphabetic languages, learning to associate speech-sounds with unfamiliar characters is a critical step in becoming a proficient reader. This dissertation aimed at expanding our knowledge of this learning process and its relation to dyslexia, with an emphasis on bridging the gap between fundamental research and educational and clinical practice.
With this goal in mind, we developed a paradigm in which dyslexic and typical readers engaged in a short computer game-based training aimed at learning eight basic letter–speech sound correspondences within an artificial orthography. The training was followed by an assessment of learning gains.
Our findings indicated that: 1) basic knowledge of new correspondences was learned equally well by dyslexic and typical readers; 2) typical readers outperformed dyslexic readers on tasks requiring (a) to identify the new correspondences under time pressure, and (b) to use them in reading; 3) the learning gains made a meaningful and partly independent contribution to explaining individual differences in (a) reading and spelling skills, (b) treatment response, and (c) future reading proficiency of kindergarten children; and 4) implicit learning techniques are successful in promoting letter-speech sound integration in children with dyslexia, although a combination of explicit instruction and implicit techniques proved to be a more powerful tool than implicit training alone.
The implications for the current theoretical framework and for educational and clinical practice were reviewed extensively. Taken together, our findings provide strong empirical support for the view that a letter-speech sound learning deficit is a key factor in developing dyslexia.