Authors: James H. Smith-Spark, Rebecca Gordon.

Article: Automaticity and Executive Abilities in Developmental Dyslexia: A Theoretical Review.

Publication: Brain Sciences (MDPI). 12, 446 2022 | DOI: 10.3390/brainsci12040446

[Full Text]

Cognitive difficulties are well documented in developmental dyslexia but they present a challenge to dyslexia theory. In this paper, the Model of the Control of Action is proposed as a theoretical explanation of how and why deficits in both automaticity and executive abilities are apparent in the cognitive profiles of dyslexia and how these deficits might relate to literacy difficulties. This theoretical perspective is used to consider evidence from different cognitive domains. The neuroanatomical underpinnings of automaticity and executive abilities are then discussed in relation to the understanding of dyslexia. Links between reading, writing, and executive function are considered. The reviewed evidence suggests that dyslexia theory should consider an interaction between procedural learned behaviour (automaticity) and higher-order (executive) abilities. The capacity to handle environmental interference, develop and engage adaptive strategies accordingly, and plan actions all require interactions between the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Difficulties in these areas might explain both impairments in the cumulative development of literacy skills in childhood and general task management in everyday life in adulthood. It is suggested that improved measures are required to assess this cerebellar–PFC interaction and to allow early identification of future literacy difficulties, allowing implementation of timely interventions and reasonable adjustments

Tagged as: attentional system, automaticity, cerebellum, executive function, orientation, prefrontal cortex, and procedural learning


Smith-Spark, J.H.; Gordon, R. Automaticity and Executive Abilities in Developmental Dyslexia: A Theoretical Review. Brain Sci. 2022, 12, 446.

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