Word, nonword, and visual paired associate learning in Dutch dyslexic children

Vera C S Messbauer, Peter F de Jong
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 2003, 84 (2): 77-96
Verbal and non-verbal learning were investigated in 21 8-11-year-old dyslexic children and chronological-age controls, and in 21 7-9-year-old reading-age controls. Tasks involved the paired associate learning of words, nonwords, or symbols with pictures. Both learning and retention of associations were examined. Results indicated that dyslexic children had difficulty with verbal learning of both words and nonwords. In addition, analysis of the errors made during nonword learning showed that both phonological errors and general learning errors were distributed similarly for the reading groups. This suggests that nonword learning in dyslexics is slower, but not qualitatively different from normal readers. Furthermore, no differences were found between the dyslexics and age-matched normal readers on non-verbal learning. Long-term retention of the learned visual-verbal associations (both words and nonwords) was not impaired in dyslexic children as compared to normal readers. Finally, phonological awareness ability was assessed. Dyslexics performed worse than age-matched normal readers, but similar to reading-age controls.


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