Authors: Jeremy M Law, Pol Ghesquière.
Publication: Reading Research Quarterly (Wiley). First published: 01 November 2021 2021 | DOI: doi.org/10.1002/rrq.450
This study examined the processing of derivational morphology and its association with early phonological skills of 24 Dutch-speaking children with dyslexia and 46 controls matched for age. A masked priming experiment was conducted where the semantic overlap between morphologically related pairs was manipulated as part of a lexical decision task. Results suggest that morphological processing is intact in children with dyslexia when compared to age-matched controls. Significant priming effects were found in each group. Children with dyslexia were found to solely benefit from the morpho-semantic information, while the morpho-orthographic form the properties of morphemes-influenced controls. Due to the longitudinal nature of the data set, an examination of early phonological awareness’s role in the later development of morphological processing skills was possible. In line with the psycholinguistic grain-size theory, fifth-grade morphological processing in children with dyslexia was found to be negatively correlated to earlier second-grade PA skills. A similar relation was not found among the controls. Results indicate a potential shift in the cognitive processes involved during reading to compensate for the observed phonological deficits of children with dyslexia.
Law, J.M., & Ghesquière, P. (2021). Morphological Processing in Children with Developmental Dyslexia: A Visual Masked Priming Study. Read Res Q, 00( 00), 1– 15. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.450
- We found that children with dyslexia did not demonstrate significant priming effects when targets paired with pseudo-derived primes; however, significant priming was observed when morpho-semantic information was present, as in the morphological condition (teacher–TEACH). Thus, morpho-orthographic processing alone is not sufficient to aid in facilitating morphological decomposition in children with dyslexia.
- In line with the psycholinguistic grain-size theory (Ziegler & Goswami, 2005), this study found that the fifth-grade morphological processing in children with dyslexia negatively correlated to earlier second-grade PA skills. This relation was not found to be significant in typical reading controls. The presence of a negative relation was interpreted as supporting the compensatory theory that children with dyslexia, who struggle at the phoneme-grapheme level, may vary in the cognitive processes elicited while reading.
- These results may have implications for instructional design, suggesting a greater need for interventions that target the development of morphological processing skills over the more explicit manipulation of morphological awareness.
- To conclude, our study provides new insights into the morphological processing of children with dyslexia. Results found intact morphological representations within both groups of children and indicate the rapid and automatic activation of these representations during the initial recognition of morphologically complex words. Supporting Quémart and Casalis (2015), differences were observed in children with dyslexia concerning the influence of morpho-semantic and morpho-orthographic information. A disassociation between early PA and later morphological processing was observed where second-grade PA was found to be negatively correlated with fifth-grade morphological priming effects in children with dyslexia. Results seem to indicate a potential developmental shift in the cognitive processes involved in reading, supporting a potential compensatory avenue through morphological processing despite the observed phonological deficits of children with dyslexia