Devil in the details? Developmental dyslexia and visual long-term memory for details

Front Psychol. 2014 Jul 2;5:686. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00686. eCollection 2014.


Cognitive theories on causes of developmental dyslexia can be divided into language-specific and general accounts. While the former assume that words are special in that associated processing problems are rooted in language-related cognition (e.g., phonology) deficits, the latter propose that dyslexia is rather rooted in a general impairment of cognitive (e.g., visual and/or auditory) processing streams. In the present study, we examined to what extent dyslexia (typically characterized by poor orthographic representations) may be associated with a general deficit in visual long-term memory (LTM) for details. We compared object- and detail-related visual LTM performance (and phonological skills) between dyslexic primary school children and IQ-, age-, and gender-matched controls. The results revealed that while the overall amount of LTM errors was comparable between groups, dyslexic children exhibited a greater portion of detail-related errors. The results suggest that not only phonological, but also general visual resolution deficits in LTM may play an important role in developmental dyslexia.

Keywords: language and word processing; memory errors; orthographic representations; phonology and reading; picture processing; visual resolution deficit.