Authors: WenandeBrianna, Emily Een, Jessica R. Petok.
Publication: Acta Psychologica . Volume 199, 102903 2019 | DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.102903
- • Adults with dyslexia are impaired in sequence learning, supporting SOLID hypothesis.
- • These sequence learning deficits are not from motor, executive, or memory demands.
- • Sequence learning deficits may have an underlying role in literacy acquisition.
Dyslexia is often characterized by disordered word recognition and spelling, though dysfunction on various non-linguistic tasks suggests a more pervasive deficit may underlie reading and spelling abilities. The serial-order learning impairment in dyslexia (SOLID) hypothesis proposes that sequence learning impairments fundamentally disrupt cognitive abilities, including linguistic processes, among individuals with dyslexia; yet only some studies report sequence learning deficits in people with dyslexia relative to controls. Evidence may be mixed because traditional sequence learning tasks often require strong motor demands, working memory processes and/or executive functions, wherein people with dyslexia can show impairments. Thus, observed sequence learning deficits in dyslexia may only appear to the extent that comorbid motor-based processes, memory capacity, or executive processes are involved. The present study measured sequence learning in college-aged students with and without dyslexia using a single task that evaluates sequencing and non-sequencing components but without strong motor, executive, or memory demands. During sequencing, each additional link in a sequence of stimuli leading to a reward is trained step-by-step, until a complete sequence is acquired. People with dyslexia made significantly more sequencing errors than controls, despite equivalent performance on non-sequencing components. Mediation analyses further revealed that sequence learning accounted for a large portion of the variance between dyslexia status and linguistic abilities, particularly pseudo-word reading. These findings extend the SOLID hypothesis by showing difficulties in the ability to acquire sequences that may play an underlying role in literacy acquisition.