Brain potentials in developmental dyslexia: differential effects of word frequency in human subjects

S Johannes, G R Mangun, C L Kussmaul, and T F Munte (1995). Neurosci Lett, 195(3):183-6.

The differences of word processing between a group of adult developmental dyslexics and control subjects were examined with the event-related potential (ERP) technique. In particular, the effects of word frequency and word recognition were assessed. The subjects viewed a series of frequently and infrequently used words, most of which were repeated after some intervening items and they discriminated between first and second presentations of the words. It can be shown that in the range from 300 to 550 ms post stimulus the amplitude of the N400 component, an ERP measure of semantic processing, is reduced for high frequency words. This effect is more pronounced in the dyslexic group and the effects of word recognition are also reduced in the dyslexic group for high frequency words. These findings are discussed with respect to current concepts of dyslexia and of semantic processing.

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