Authors: Rasamimanana Maud; Mylène Barbaroux, Pascale Colé, Mireille Besson.

Article: Semantic compensation and novel word learning in university students with dyslexia.

Publication: Neuropsychologia (Elsevier). Volume 139, 107358 2020 | DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107358


• University students with dyslexia are impaired in phonological categorization tasks.
• They showed additional evidence of persistent phonological deficits in the novel phonological tasks that were used here.
Phonological deficit does not prevent them from learning the meaning of novel words as well as control skilled readers do.
• Students with dyslexia possibly mobilized more frontal resources to reach levels of performance similar to skilled readers when learning novel words.
• Overall, results support the semantic compensation hypothesis in adults with dyslexia.


The aim of this experiment was to use behavioral and electrophysiological methods to compare university students with dyslexia and matched skilled readers in a novel word learning experiment that included phonological categorization tasks, a word learning phase and a test phase with matching and semantic tasks. Specifically, we aimed at disentangling two hypotheses. If phonological processing drives novel word learning and if phonological processing is impaired in students with dyslexia, they should perform lower than skilled readers not only in the phonological categorization tasks but also in the matching and semantic tasks. By contrast, if students with dyslexia use semantic knowledge to compensate for their phonological deficits, they should be able to reach the same level of performance and show similar enhancements of the N200 and N400 components than skilled readers in the matching and semantic tasks. Results at both behavioral and electrophysiological levels showed that the phonological deficits evidenced in the phonological tasks did not impede students with dyslexia to learn the meaning of novel words, possibly because they mobilized more frontal resources than skilled readers. These results are discussed within a general framework of semantic compensation in adults with dyslexia.


Tagged as: altbrain and semantic processing


Maud Rasamimanana, Mylène Barbaroux, Pascale Colé, Mireille Besson,Semantic compensation and novel word learning in university students with dyslexia,Neuropsychologia,Volume 139,2020,

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