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Syntactic priming effects in dyslexic children: A study in Brazilian Portuguese


Hagoort,  Peter
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Belavina Kuerten, A., Mota, M., Segaert, K., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Syntactic priming effects in dyslexic children: A study in Brazilian Portuguese. Poster presented at Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2016), Bilbao, Spain.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-9D0B-7
Dyslexia is a learning disorder caused primarily by a phonological processing deficit. So far, few studies have examined whether dyslexia deficits extend to syntactic processing. We investigated how dyslexic children process syntactic structures. In a self-paced reading syntactic priming paradigm, the passive voice was repeated in mini-blocks of five sentences. These were mixed with an equal number of filler mini-blocks (actives, intransitives); the verb was repeated within all mini-blocks. The data of 20 dyslexic children (Mean(age)=12,8), native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese, were compared to that of 25 non-dyslexic children (Mean(age)=10,4 years). A repeated-measures ANOVA on reading times for the verb revealed a significant sentence repetition (p<.001) and group by sentence repetition effect (p<.001). Dyslexics demonstrated priming effects between all consecutive passive voice repetitions (all p<.05), whereas reading times for controls differed only between the first and second passive (p<.001). For active sentences, dyslexics showed priming effects only between the first and second sentences (p<.05) while controls did not show any significant effect, suggesting that the effects for passives are not solely due to the verb being repeated, but at least in part due to the repeated syntactic structure. These findings thus reveal syntactic processing differences between dyslexic and non-dyslexic children.