Eye movement patterns in linguistic and non-linguistic tasks in developmental surface dyslexia

M De Luca, E Di Pace, A Judica, D Spinell, P Zoccolotti
Neuropsychologia 1999, 37 (12): 1407-20
Ten subjects who could be reliably assessed as surface dyslexics were selected on the basis of a large test battery. Eye movements in non-linguistic and linguistic tasks were studied in these subjects. Stability of fixation on a stationary stimulus was examined. Performance of dyslexics was no different from that of an age-matched control group. Similarly, no difference was observed between the two groups when they were requested to saccade to a rightward or leftward target. On the other hand, while reading short passages, dyslexics showed an altered pattern of eye movements with more frequent and smaller rightward saccades as well as longer fixation times. The reading pattern was analysed by eye tracking. Numerous fixations were used to read a single word in a fragmented way. Longer words showed a higher number of fixations. Overall, it was concluded that surface dyslexia is not associated with oculo-motor dysfunction and the study of eye movements in reading reveals the processing through orthography-to-phonology conversion characteristic of surface dyslexia. The importance is stressed of examining selected groups of subjects in the psychophysiological study of dyslexia.

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