Can a simple, short-term memory task help to screen dyslexia?
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Funding to support students with dyslexia in post-compulsory education is under pressure and more efficient assessments may offset some of this shortfall. We tested potential tasks for screening dyslexia: recall of adjective-noun, compared to noun adjective, pairings (syntax) and recall of high versus low frequency letter pairings (bigrams). Students who reported themselves as dyslexic failed to show a normal syntax effect (greater recall of adjective-noun compared to noun-adjective pairings) and no significant difference in recall between the two types of bigrams whereas students who were not dyslexic showed the syntax effect and a bias towards recalling high frequency bigrams. Findings are consistent with recent explanations of dyslexia suggesting that those affected find it difficult to learn and utilise sequential long-term order information (Szmalec et al. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 37(5) ,1270-1279, 2011). Further, ROC curve analyses revealed both tasks showed acceptable diagnostic properties as they were able to discriminate between the two groups of participants.
Perham, N., Howell, T. and Watt, A. (2019) 'Can a simple, short-term memory task help to screen dyslexia?', Current Psychology. (2019) (awaiting issue number)
Article published in Current Psychology on 14 December 2019 (online) available open access at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00568-4
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