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The relationship between motor control and phonology in dyslexic children

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Background:

The goal of this study was to investigate the automaticity/cerebellar theory of dyslexia. We tested phonological skills and cerebellar function in a group of dyslexic 8–12-year-old children and their matched controls. Tests administered included the Phonological Assessment Battery, postural stability, bead threading, finger to thumb and time estimation. Results:

Dyslexic children were found to be significantly poorer than the controls at all tasks but time estimation. About 77% of dyslexics were more than one standard deviation below controls in phonological ability, and 59% were similarly impaired in motor skills. However, at least part of the discrepancy in motor skills was due to dyslexic individuals who had additional disorders (ADHD and/or DCD). The absence of evidence for a time estimation deficit also casts doubt on the cerebellar origin of the motor deficiency. About half the dyslexic children didn't have any motor problem, and there was no evidence for a causal relationship between motor skills on the one hand and phonological and reading skills on the other. Conclusion:

This study provides partial support for the presence of motor problems in dyslexic children, but does not support the hypothesis that a cerebellar dysfunction is the cause of their phonological and reading impairment.
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Keywords: Dyslexia; automaticity; cerebellum; motor control; phonology; reading

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, UK;

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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