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Mehlhase, Heike; Bakos, Sarolta; Landerl, Karin; Schulte-Koerne, Gerd; Moll, Kristina (2019): Orthographic learning in children with isolated and combined reading and spelling deficits. In: Child Neuropsychology, Vol. 25, No. 3: pp. 370-393
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Abstract

Dissociations between reading and spelling problems are likely to be associated with different underlying cognitive deficits, and with different deficits in orthographic learning. In order to understand these differences, the current study examined orthographic learning using a printed-word learning paradigm. Children (4th grade) with isolated reading, isolated spelling and combined reading and spelling problems were compared to children with age appropriate reading and spelling skills on their performance during learning novel words and symbols (non-verbal control condition), and during immediate and delayed reading and spelling recall tasks. No group differences occurred in the non-verbal control condition. In the verbal condition, initial learning was intact in all groups, but differences occurred during recall tasks. Children with reading fluency deficits showed slower reading times, while children with spelling deficits were less accurate, both in reading and spelling recall. Children with isolated spelling problems showed no difficulties in immediate spelling recall, but had problems in remembering the spellings 2 hours later. The results suggest that different orthographic learning deficits underlie reading fluency and spelling problems: Children with isolated reading fluency deficits have no difficulties in building-up orthographic representations, but access to these representations is slowed down while children with isolated spelling deficits have problems in storing precise orthographic representations in long-term memory.