Oral language deficits in dyslexic children: weaknesses in working memory and verbal planning

Brain Cogn. 2002 Mar-Apr;48(2-3):505-12. doi: 10.1006/brcg.2001.1407.


This paper focuses on the relationships among language processing (word- and sentence-level), working memory, and verbal/nonverbal linguistic output. The study examined oral language abilities in a group of 26 French-speaking dyslexic children, compared to two control groups (26 normally developing age-matched children and 26 normally developing younger children). The experimental procedure consisted of tasks involving auditory memory skills (digit span, unfamiliar word repetition, sentence repetition), word retrieval (with semantic, phonological and grammatical criteria), and sentence processing (with verbal and act-out production). The major findings reveal that (a) compared with their age-mates, the dyslexic children exhibited a significant deficit affecting all tasks; and (b) the dyslexic children and the younger controls performed similarly on several tasks. The results are consistent with the processing limitation hypothesis and suggest that the core deficit is the formulation of cognitive plans from auditory input to verbal output.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dyslexia / complications*
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / complications*
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / complications*
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vocabulary*