Limited Visual Working Memory Capacity in Children with Dyslexia: An ERP Study
Some researchers suggest that deficits in attention and working memory influence the development of dyslexia, whereas others propose that these deficits are more likely due to reduced global processing speed. The current study aimed to investigate behavioral performance in children with dyslexia compared to typically developing controls on two tasks: a visual oddball task for attention and an n-back task for working memory. We measured P300 event-related potentials (ERP) amplitude and latency for both tasks. Our results demonstrated reduced behavioral accuracy and P300 amplitude for the children with dyslexia compared to their typically developing peers in both the n-back and visual oddball tasks. We also found no differences in response time or P300 latency between these groups on either task. These findings support the idea that children with dyslexia experience deficits in cognitive processes related to working memory and attention, but do not exhibit decreased global processing speed on these tasks.
Adelman, P. B., & Vogel, S. A. (1990). College graduates with learning disabilities—Employment attainment and career patterns. Learning Disability Quarterly, 13(3), 154–166. https://doi.org/10.2307/1510698
Albano, D., Garcia, R. B., & Cornoldi, C. (2016). Deficits in working memory visual-phonological binding in children with dyslexia. Psychology & Neuroscience, 9(4), 411–419. https://doi.org/10.1037/pne0000066
Awh, E., & Jonides, J. (2001). Overlapping mechanisms of attention and spatial working memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5(3), 119–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01593-x
Awh, E., Vogel, E. K., & Oh, S.-H. (2006). Interactions between attention and working memory. Neuroscience, 139(1), 201–208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.08.023
Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. J. (2019). The phonological loop as a buffer store: An update. Cortex, 112, 91–106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.05.015
Bergey, B. W., Deacon, S. H., & Parrila, R. K. (2017). Metacognitive reading and study strategies and academic achievement of university students with and without a history of reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(1), 81–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219415597020
Bosse, M.-L., Tainturier, M. J., & Valdois, S. (2007). Developmental dyslexia: The visual attention span deficit hypothesis. Cognition, 104(2), 198–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2006.05.009
Brandenburg, J., Klesczewski, J., Fischbach, A., Schuchardt, K., Büttner, G., & Hasselhorn, M. (2015). Working memory in children with learning disabilities in reading versus spelling: Searching for overlapping and specific cognitive factors. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48(6), 622–634. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219414521665
Breznitz, Z. (2003). Speed of phonological and orthographic processing as factors in dyslexia: Electrophysiological evidence. Genetic, Social and General Psychology Monographs, 129(2), 183–206.
Breznitz, Z. (2006). Fluency in reading: Synchronization of processes. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.
Brouwer, A.-M., Hogervorst, M. A., van Erp, J. B., Heffelaar, T., Zimmerman, P. H., & Oostenveld, R. (2012). Estimating workload using EEG spectral power and ERPs in the n-back task. Journal of Neural Engineering, 9(4), 045008. https://doi.org/10.1088/1741-2560/9/4/045008
Chan, C. Y. H. (2018). Verbal working memory deficits in children with Chinese developmental dyslexia. International Journal of Education and Psychological Research, 7(2), 24–28.
Chevalier, T. M., Parrila, R., Ritchie, K. C., & Deacon, S. H. (2017). The role of metacognitive reading strategies, metacognitive study and learning strategies, and behavioral study and learning strategies in predicting academic success in students with and without a history of reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 50(1), 34–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219415588850
Christensen, J. C., Estepp, J. R., Wilson, G. F., & Russell, C. A. (2012). The effects of day-to-day variability of physiological data on operator functional state classification. NeuroImage, 59(1), 57–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.091
Coady, J. A., & Evans, J. L. (2008). Uses and interpretations of non‐word repetition tasks in children with and without specific language impairments (SLI). International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 43(1), 1–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/13682820601116485
Corbetta, M., & Shulman, G. L. (2002). Control of goal‐directed and stimulus‐driven attention in the brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3, 201–215. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn755
Cowan, N. (2010). The magical mystery four: How is working memory capacity limited, and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19(1), 51–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721409359277
Cowan, N. (2017). The many faces of working memory and short-term storage. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(4), 1158–1170. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-016-1191-6
Daucourt, M. C., Erbeli, F., Little, C. W., Haughbrook, R., & Hart, S. A. (2019). A meta-analytical review of the genetic and environmental correlations between reading and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and reading and math. Scientific Studies of Reading, 24(1), 23–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2019.1631827
Delorme, A., & Makeig, S. (2004). EEGLAB: An open source toolbox for analysis of single-trial EEG dynamics including independent component analysis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 134(1), 9–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2003.10.009
Dusek, W. A., Pierscionek, B. K., & McClelland, J. F. (2011). An evaluation of clinical treatment of convergence insufficiency for children with reading difficulties. BMC Ophthalmology, 11(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2415-11-21
Evans, J. L., Selinger, C., & Pollak, S. D. (2011). P300 as a measure of processing capacity in auditory and visual domains in specific language impairment. Brain Research, 1389, 93–102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2011.02.010
Facoetti, A., Ruffino, M., Peru, A., Paganoni, P., & Chelazzi, L. (2008). Sluggish engagement and disengagement of non-spatial attention in dyslexic children. Cortex, 44(9), 1221–1233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2007.10.007
Fawcett, A. J., Chattopadhyay, A. K., Kandler, R. H., Jarratt, J. A., Nicolson, R. I., & Proctor, M. (1993). Event-related potentials and dyslexia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 682(1), 342–342. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1993.tb22988.x
Gathercole, S. E., Alloway, T. P., Willis, C., & Adams, A. M. (2006). Working memory in children with reading disabilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93(3), 265–281. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2005.08.003
Giovagnoli, G., Vicari, S., Tomassetti, S., & Menghini, D. (2016). The role of visual-spatial abilities in dyslexia: Age differences in children’s reading? Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1997. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01997
Heiervang, E., & Hugdahl, K. (2003). Impaired visual attention in children with dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(1), 68–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222194030360010801
Hoffman, L. M., & Gillam, R. B. (2004). Verbal and spatial information processing constraints in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2004/011)
Huettel, S. A., & McCarthy, G. (2004). What is odd in the oddball task?: Prefrontal cortex is activated by dynamic changes in response strategy. Neuropsychologia, 42(3), 379–386. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2003.07.009
Kail, R., & Salthouse, T. A. (1994). Processing speed as a mental capacity. Acta Psychologica, 86(2–3), 199–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/0001-6918(94)90003-5
Kormi-Nouri, R., Moradi, A.-R., Moradi, S., Akbari-Zardkhaneh, S., & Zahedian, H. (2012). The effect of bilingualism on letter and category fluency tasks in primary school children: Advantage or disadvantage? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 15(2), 351–364. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728910000192
Lewis, L. (1999). An institutional perspective on students with disabilities in postsecondary education. US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Lopez-Calderon, J., & Luck, S. J. (2014). ERPLAB: An open-source toolbox for the analysis of event-related potentials. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 213. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00213
Lotfi, S., Rostami, R., Shokoohi-Yekta, M., Ward, R. T., Motamed-Yeganeh, N., Mathew, A. S., & Lee, H.-J. (2020). Effects of computerized cognitive training for children with dyslexia: An ERP study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 55, 100904. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2020.100904
Luck, S. J. (2005). An introduction to the event-related potential technique (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
Luck, S. J. (2014). An introduction to the event-related potential technique (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
Maciejewska, B., Wiskirska-Woźnica, B., Świdziński, P., & Michalak, M. (2013). Assessing auditory processing disorders in children with developmental dyslexia using auditory cognitive event-related potentials. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 65(3), 129–135 https://doi.org/10.1159/000354167
Magliano, J. P., Larson, A. M., Higgs, K., & Loschky, L. C. (2016). The relative roles of visuospatial and linguistic working memory systems in generating inferences during visual narrative comprehension. Memory & Cognition, 44(2), 207–219. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-015-0558-7
Mayer, J. S., Bittner, R. A., Nikolić, D., Bledowski, C., Goebel, R., & Linden, D. E. (2007). Common neural substrates for visual working memory and attention. NeuroImage, 36(2), 441–453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.03.007
McVay, J. C., & Kane, M. J. (2012). Why does working memory capacity predict variation in reading comprehension? On the influence of mind wandering and executive attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(2), 302–320. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025250
Meegan, D. V., Purc-Stephenson, R., Honsberger, M. J., & Topan, M. (2004). Task analysis complements neuroimaging: An example from working memory research. NeuroImage, 21(3), 1026–1036. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2003.10.011
Menghini, D., Finzi, A., Carlesimo, G. A., & Vicari, S. (2011). Working memory impairment in children with developmental dyslexia: Is it just a phonological deficity? Developmental Neuropsychology, 36(2), 199–213. https://doi.org/10.1080/87565641.2010.549868
Miller, C. A., Leonard, L. B., Kail, R. V., Zhang, X., Tomblin, J. B., & Francis, D. J. (2006). Response time in 14-year-olds with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 49(4), 712–728. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2006/052)
Monsell, S. (1996). Control of mental processes. In V. Bruce (Ed.), Unsolved mysteries of the mind: Tutorial essays in cognition (pp. 93–148). London, England: Paychology Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315784960
Morris, D., & Turnbull, P. (2007). A survey‐based exploration of the impact of dyslexia on career progression of UK registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 15(1), 97–106. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2934.2006.00649.x
Muthén, B. O., & Curran, P. J. (1997). General longitudinal modeling of individual differences in experimental designs: A latent variable framework for analysis and power estimation. Psychological Methods, 2(4), 371–402. https://doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.2.4.371
Newman, L., Wagner, M., Knokey, A.-M., Marder, C., Nagle, K., Shaver, D., Wei, X., Cameto, R., Contreras, E., Ferguson, K., Greene, S., & Schwarting, M. (2011). The post-high school outcomes of young adults with disabilities up to 8 years after high school. A Report From the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2)(NCSER 2011-3005). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
Ortiz Alonso, T., Navarro, M., & Vila Abad, E. (1990). P300 component of the auditory event-related potentials and dyslexia. Functional Neurology, 5(4), 333–338.
Papagiannopoulou, E. A., & Lagopoulos, J. (2017). P300 event-related potentials in children with dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 67(1), 99–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-016-0122-6
Pennington, B. F. (2008). Diagnosing learning disorders: A neuropsychological framework. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Pickering, S. J. (2012). Working memory in dyslexia. In T. P. Alloway & S. E. Gathercole (Eds.), Working memory and neurodevelopmental disorders (pp. 21–54). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Pickering, S. J., & Gathercole, S. E. (2001). The working memory test battery for children. London: Psychological Corporation.
Polich, J. (2007). Updating P300: An integrative theory of P3a and P3b. Clinical Neurophysiology, 118(10), 2128–2148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2007.04.019
Quercia, P., Feiss, L., & Michel, C. (2013). Developmental dyslexia and vision. Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, N.Z.), 7, 869–881. https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S41607
Ragland, J. D., Turetsky, B. I., Gur, R. C., Gunning-Dixon, F., Turner, T., Schroeder, L., Chan, R., & Gur, R. E. (2002). Working memory for complex figures: An fMRI comparison of letter and fractal n-back tasks. Neuropsychology, 16(3), 370–379. https://doi.org/10.1037/0894-4184.108.40.2060
Raven, J. (1977). Education, Values and Society: The Objectives of Education and the Nature and Development of Competence. London, UK: H. K. Lewis.
Richardson, U., Thomson, J. M., Scott, S. K., & Goswami, U. (2004). Auditory processing skills and phonological representation in dyslexic children. Dyslexia, 10(3), 215–233. https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.276
Saksida, A., Iannuzzi, S., Bogliotti, C., Chaix, Y., Démonet, J.-F., Bricout, L., Billard, C., Nguyen-Morel, M. A., Le Huezy, M. F., Soares-Boucaud, I., George, F., Ziegler, J. C., & Ramus, F. (2016). Phonological skills, visual attention span, and visual stress in developmental dyslexia. Developmental Psychology, 52(10), 1503–1516. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000184
Savage, R., Cornish, K., Manly, T., & Hollis, C. (2006). Cognitive processes in children's reading and attention: The role of working memory, divided attention, and response inhibition. British Journal of Psychology, 97(3), 365–385. https://doi.org/10.1348/000712605X81370
Savolainen, H., Ahonen, T., Aro, M., Tolvanen, A., & Holopainen, L. (2008). Reading comprehension, word reading and spelling as predictors of school achievement and choice of secondary education. Learning and Instruction, 18(2), 201–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2007.09.017
Schuchardt, K., Maehler, C., & Hasselhorn, M. (2008). Working memory deficits in children with specific learning disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 41(6), 514–523. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219408317856
Shiran, A., & Breznitz, Z. (2011). The effect of cognitive training on recall range and speed of information processing in the working memory of dyslexic and skilled readers. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24(5), 524–537. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2010.12.001
Shokoohi-Yekta, M., Lotfi, S., Rostami, R., Akbar Arjmandnia, A., Motamed-Yeganeh, N., & Sharifi, A. (2014). The effectiveness of computerized cognitive training on the working memory performance of children with dyslexia. Audiology, 23(3).
Singleton, C. (2002). Dyslexia: Cognitive factors and implications for literacy. Dyslexia and Literacy. Theory and Practice, 115–129.
Smith-Spark, J. H., & Fisk, J. E. (2007). Working memory functioning in developmental dyslexia. Memory, 15(1), 34–56. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658210601043384
Snow, C. E., & Strucker, J. (1999). Lessons from preventing reading difficulties in young children for adult learning and literacy. Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Snowling, M. J., & Hulme, C. (2012). Interventions for children's language and literacy difficulties. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 47(1), 27–34. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00081.x
Snowling, M. J., & Melby-Lervåg, M. (2016). Oral language deficits in familial dyslexia: A meta-analysis and review. Psychological Bulletin, 142(5), 498–545. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000037
Sokhadze, E. M., Lamina, E. V., Casanova, E. L., Kelly, D. P., Opris, I., Khachidze, I., & Casanova, M. F. (2017). Atypical processing of novel distracters in a visual oddball task in autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral Sciences, 7(4), 79. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs7040079
Stein, J. (2001). The magnocellular theory of developmental dyslexia. Dyslexia, 7(1), 12–36. https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.186
Swanson, H. L. (1994). Short-term memory and working memory: Do both contribute to our understanding of academic achievement in children and adults with learning disabilities? Journal of Learning disabilities, 27(1), 34–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/002221949402700107
Swanson, H. L., & Alloway, T. P. (2012). Working memory, learning, and academic achievement. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, T. Urdan, C. B. McCormick, G. M. Sinatra, & J. Sweller (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook, Vol. 1. Theories, constructs, and critical issues (pp. 327–366). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Swanson, H. L., & Howell, M. (2001). Working memory, short-term memory, and speech rate as predictors of children’s reading performance at different ages. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 720–734. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.110
Swanson, H. L., Zheng, X., & Jerman, O. (2009). Working memory, short-term memory, and reading disabilities: A selective meta-analysis of the literature. Journal of learning disabilities, 42(3), 260–287. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219409331958
Szenkovits, G., Darma, Q., Darcy, I., & Ramus, F. (2016). Exploring dyslexics’ phonological deficit II: Phonological grammar. First Language, 36(3), 316–337. https://doi.org/10.1177/0142723716648841
Tanaka, H., Black, J. M., Hulme, C., Stanley, L. M., Kesler, S. R., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Reiss, A. L., Gabrieli, J. D. E., & Hoeft, F. (2011). The brain basis of the phonological deficit in dyslexia is independent of IQ. Psychological Science, 22(11), 1442–1451. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611419521
Taraban, R., Kerr, M., & Rynearson, K. (2004). Analytic and pragmatic factors in college students’ metacognitive reading strategies. Reading Psychology, 25(2), 67–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702710490435547
Taraban, R., Rynearson, K., & Kerr, M. (2000). College students’ academic performance and self-reports of comprehension strategy use. Reading psychology, 21(4), 283–308. https://doi.org/10.1080/027027100750061930
Taroyan, N. A., Nicolson, R. I., & Fawcett, A. J. (2007). Behavioural and neurophysiological correlates of dyslexia in the continuous performance task. Clinical Neurophysiology, 118(4), 845–855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinph.2006.11.273
van Buuren, S., & Groothuis-Oudshoorn, K. (2011). MICE: Multivariate imputation by chained equations in R. Journal of Statistical Software, 45(3), 1–67. https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v045.i03
van der Kleij, S. W., Groen, M. A., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2019). Sequential implicit learning ability predicts growth in reading skills in typical readers and children with dyslexia. Scientific Studies of Reading, 23(1), 77–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2018.1491582
van Dinteren, R., Arns, M., Jongsma, M. L., & Kessels, R. P. (2014). P300 development across the lifespan: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE, 9(2), e87347. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087347
Vellutino, F. R., Fletcher, J. M., Snowling, M. J., & Scanlon, D. M. (2004). Specific reading disability (dyslexia): What have we learned in the past four decades? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(1), 2–40. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.0021-9630.2003.00305.x
Vidyasagar, T. R., & Pammer, K. (2010). Dyslexia: A deficit in visuo-spatial attention, not in phonological processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(2), 57–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2009.12.003
Wagner, R. K., & Muse, A. (2006). Working memory deficits in developmental dyslexia. In T. P. Alloway & S. E. Gathercole (Eds.), Working memory in neurodevelopmental conditions (pp. 41–58). East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press.
Watter, S., Geffen, G. M., & Geffen, L. B. (2001). The n-back as a dual-task: P300 morphology under divided attention. Psychophysiology, 38(6), 998–1003. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8986.3860998
Wolf, M., & Bowers, P. G. (1999). The double-deficit hypothesis for the developmental dyslexias. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(3), 415–438. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.1685
Ziegler, J. C., & Goswami, U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131(1), 3–29. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.131.1.3
Copyright (c) 2022 Salahadin Lotfi, Richard T Ward, Abel S. Mathew, Mohsen Shokoohi-Yekta, Reza Rostami, Negin Motamed-Yeganeh, Christine L. Larson, Han-Joo Lee
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).