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Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands

Zaric G.,Maastricht University | Zaric G.,Maastricht Brain Imaging Center | Gonzalez G.F.,University of Amsterdam | Gonzalez G.F.,Rudolf Berlin Center | And 7 more authors.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2015

A failure to build solid letter-speech sound associations may contribute to reading impairments in developmental dyslexia. Whether this reduced neural integration of letters and speech sounds changes over time within individual children and how this relates to behavioral gains in reading skills remains unknown. In this research, we examined changes in event-related potential (ERP) measures of letter-speech sound integration over a 6-month period during which 9-year-old dyslexic readers (n = 17) followed a training in letter-speech sound coupling next to their regular reading curriculum. We presented the Dutch spoken vowels /a/ and /o/ as standard and deviant stimuli in one auditory and two audiovisual oddball conditions. In one audiovisual condition (AV0), the letter “a” was presented simultaneously with the vowels, while in the other (AV200) it was preceding vowel onset for 200 ms. Prior to the training (T1), dyslexic readers showed the expected pattern of typical auditory mismatch responses, together with the absence of letter-speech sound effects in a late negativity (LN) window. After the training (T2), our results showed earlier (and enhanced) crossmodal effects in the LN window. Most interestingly, earlier LN latency at T2 was significantly related to higher behavioral accuracy in letter-speech sound coupling. On a more general level, the timing of the earlier mismatch negativity (MMN) in the simultaneous condition (AV0) measured at T1, significantly related to reading fluency at both T1 and T2 as well as with reading gains. Our findings suggest that the reduced neural integration of letters and speech sounds in dyslexic children may show moderate improvement with reading instruction and training and that behavioral improvements relate especially to individual differences in the timing of this neural integration. © 2015 Žarić, Fraga González, Tijms, van der Molen, Blomert and Bonte.

Gonzalez G.F.,University of Amsterdam | Gonzalez G.F.,Rudolf Berlin Center | Zaric G.,Maastricht University | Tijms J.,University of Amsterdam | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

A recent account of dyslexia assumes that a failure to develop automated letter-speech sound integration might be responsible for the observed lack of reading fluency. This study uses a pre-test-training-post-test design to evaluate the effects of a training program based on letter-speech sound associations with a special focus on gains in reading fluency. A sample of 44 children with dyslexia and 23 typical readers, aged 8 to 9, was recruited. Children with dyslexia were randomly allocated to either the training program group (n = 23) or a waiting-list control group (n = 21). The training intensively focused on letter-speech sound mapping and consisted of 34 individual sessions of 45 minutes over a five month period. The children with dyslexia showed substantial reading gains for the main word reading and spelling measures after training, improving at a faster rate than typical readers and waitinglist controls. The results are interpreted within the conceptual framework assuming a multisensory integration deficit as the most proximal cause of dysfluent reading in dyslexia. © 2015 Fraga González et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Gonzalez G.F.,University of Amsterdam | Gonzalez G.F.,Rudolf Berlin Center | Zaric G.,Maastricht University | Tijms J.,University of Amsterdam | And 5 more authors.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

The specialization of visual brain areas for fast processing of printed words plays an important role in the acquisition of reading skills. Dysregulation of these areas may be among the deficits underlying developmental dyslexia. The present study examines the specificity of word activation in dyslexic children in 3rd grade by comparing early components of brain potentials elicited by visually presented words vs. strings of meaningless letter-like symbols. Results showed a more pronounced N1 component for words compared to symbols for both groups. The dyslexic group revealed larger left-lateralized, word-specific N1 responses than the typically reading group. Furthermore, positive correlations between N1 amplitudes and reading fluency were found in the dyslexic group. Our results support the notion of N1 as a sensitive index of visual word processing involved in reading fluency. © 2014 Fraga González, Žarić, Tijms, Bonte, Blomert and van der Molen.

Zaric G.,Maastricht University | Zaric G.,Maastricht Brain Imaging Center | Gonzalez G.F.,University of Amsterdam | Gonzalez G.F.,Rudolf Berlin Center | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

The acquisition of letter-speech sound associations is one of the basic requirements for fluent reading acquisition and its failure may contribute to reading difficulties in developmental dyslexia. Here we investigated event-related potential (ERP) measures of letter-speech sound integration in 9-year-old typical and dyslexic readers and specifically test their relation to individual differences in reading fluency. We employed an audiovisual oddball paradigm in typical readers (n = 20), dysfluent (n = 18) and severely dysfluent (n = 18) dyslexic children. In one auditory and two audiovisual conditions the Dutch spoken vowels/a/and/o/were presented as standard and deviant stimuli. In audiovisual blocks, the letter 'a' was presented either simultaneously (AV0), or 200 ms before (AV200) vowel sound onset. Across the three children groups, vowel deviancy in auditory blocks elicited comparable mismatch negativity (MMN) and late negativity (LN) responses. In typical readers, both audiovisual conditions (AV0 and AV200) led to enhanced MMN and LN amplitudes. In both dyslexic groups, the audiovisual LN effects were mildly reduced. Most interestingly, individual differences in reading fluency were correlated with MMN latency in the AV0 condition. A further analysis revealed that this effect was driven by a short-lived MMN effect encompassing only the N1 window in severely dysfluent dyslexics versus a longer MMN effect encompassing both the N1 and P2 windows in the other two groups. Our results confirm and extend previous findings in dyslexic children by demonstrating a deficient pattern of letter-speech sound integration depending on the level of reading dysfluency. These findings underscore the importance of considering individual differences across the entire spectrum of reading skills in addition to group differences between typical and dyslexic readers. © 2014 Žarić et al.

Zeguers M.H.T.,University of Amsterdam | Zeguers M.H.T.,Rudolf Berlin Center | Snellings P.,University of Amsterdam | Snellings P.,Rudolf Berlin Center | And 7 more authors.
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology | Year: 2014

In opaque orthographies, the activation of orthographic and phonological codes follows distinct time courses during visual word recognition. However, it is unclear how orthography and phonology are accessed in more transparent orthographies. Therefore, we conducted time course analyses of masked priming effects in the transparent Dutch orthography. The first study used targets with small phonological differences between phonological and orthographic primes, which are typical in transparent orthographies. Results showed consistent orthographic priming effects, yet phonological priming effects were absent. The second study explicitly manipulated the strength of the phonological difference and revealed that both orthographic and phonological priming effects became identifiable when phonological differences were strong enough. This suggests that, similar to opaque orthographies, strong phonological differences are a prerequisite to separate orthographic and phonological priming effects in transparent orthographies. Orthographic and phonological priming appeared to follow distinct time courses, with orthographic codes being quickly translated into phonological codes and phonology dominating the remainder of the lexical access phase. © 2014, The Experimental Psychology Society.

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