“Infant ERPs separate children at risk of dyslexia who become good readers from those who become poor readers”

[Developmental Psychology]

Developmental dyslexia, most widely recognized as a reading disorder, and whose causes are not precisely known, is characterized by multiple deficits. In this longitudinal study, van Zuijen et al. examine how one of these, a phonological deficit (the difficulty connecting letters to the sounds they make), may be an early indicator of later reading trouble. Starting with at-risk infants as young as 2 months old, the researchers studied brain activity during a phonological differentiation task. Years later, when the participants were in second grade, the researchers followed up with a reading fluency test. The children whose brain scans during the phonological task had exhibited a mismatched response (MMR) were reading fluently, but those who did not show MMR were not. These results are consistent with theories of dyslexia as a phonological deficit, and show that there are very early neurophysiological precursors to dysfluent reading, which could be valuable in early identification. Furthermore, lateralization differences between the subjects and controls supports theories of alternative speech processing circuitry that may develop as a compensatory mechanism for some children with phonological impairments early on.

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