Dyslexia and Short Term Memory: A New Perspective
Howell, Toni Kristina
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Background: Dyslexia is defined by a poor reading ability but also involves other cognitive problems (Szmalec et al. 2011). Recent literature put forward by Szmalec et al. 2011) suggests that the root cause of dyslexia is an impairment in remembering serial order information. Another study which looked at the effect of short term memory was conducted by Perham et al. (2012), who found that poor readers did not show a syntactical congruency effect in a serial recall task. Aim: To establish whether dyslexic individuals will fail to show a syntactical congruency effect or a bigram frequency effect on serial recall tasks, which may give an explanation based on short term memory as to why dyslexia occurs. Method: A convenience sample of 46 participants took part in two serial recall tasks, Experiment 1 involved the serial recall of 24 word lists, each word list included three word pairings which were either adjective-noun (A-N) or noun-adjective (N-A). Experiment 2 involved the serial recall of 20 sequences, each sequence involved three pairs of consonant clusters which were either familiar or unfamiliar. The first analysis compared the mean total scores of dyslexic against non dyslexic participants in each experiment. The second analysis involved a three way analysis of variance, comparing the recall of each word list or letter sequence and the position between dyslexics and non dyslexic participants. Results: The non-dyslexic individuals recalled more adjective-noun words than noun-adjective words (p<.001) and also recalled more familiar letters than unfamiliar (p<.05). It was also found that dyslexic individuals did not show the difference in recall performance on both tasks. A serial recall curve was also evident. Conclusion: Dyslexic individuals failed to show the syntactical congruency effect or bigram frequency effect during serial recalling of items. This supports previous research that suggests that dyslexia may be due to a deficit in short term memory processes.
B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology
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