Prelexical representations and processes in reading: Evidence from acquired dyslexia

Teresa Schubert, Michael McCloskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We report a detailed and extensive single-case study of an acquired dyslexic patient, L.H.D., who suffered a left-hemisphere lesion as a result of a ruptured aneurysm. We present evidence that L.H.D.'s reading errors stem from a deficit in visual letter identification, and we use her deficit as a basis for exploring a variety of issues concerning prelexical representations and processes in reading. First, building on the work of other researchers, we present evidence that the prelexical reading system includes an allograph level of representation that represents each distinct visual shape of a letter (e.g., a, A, etc., for the letter A). We extend a theory proposed by Caramazza and Hillis [Caramazza, A., & Hillis, A. (1990a). Spatial representation of words in the brain implied by studies of a unilateral neglect patient. Nature, 346, 267-269] to include an allograph level, and we probe the nature of the allograph representations in some detail. Next, we explore the implications of visual similarity effects and letter perseverations in L.H.D.'s reading performance, arguing that these effects shed light on activation dynamics in the prelexical reading system and on the genesis of L.H.D.'s errors. We also probe the processing of letter case in the visual letter identification process, proposing that separate abstract letter identity and case representations are computed. Finally, we present evidence that the allograph level as well as the abstract letter identity level implement a word-based frame of reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-395
Number of pages36
JournalCognitive neuropsychology
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

Keywords

  • Acquired dyslexia
  • Letter identification
  • Perseverations
  • Pure alexia
  • Reading
  • Reference frames

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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