Interactive Word Production in Dyslexic Children


In solving problems people naturally seek to modify their external environment such that the physical space in which they work is more amenable or ‘congenial’ to achieving a desired outcome. Attempts to determine the effectiveness of certain artifacts or spatial reorganizations in aiding reasoners solve problems must be relativised to the difficulty of the task and the cognitive abilities of the reasoners. This investigation aimed to determine the extent to which manipulating the order of letter tiles can affect participants’ performance in a word production task. The sample consisted of both developmental dyslexic children and a control group of typically developing children, aged between 9 - 11 years. The word production task involved creating words from sequences of letter tiles in a ‘hands’ and a ‘no hands’ condition. Manipulating the tiles significantly enhanced word production for the dyslexic children with an easy letter set but not with a hard letter set. In turn, manipulating the tiles had a marginal impact on performance in the control children. Overall, measures of visuospatial and working memory abilities were better predictors of word production performance when children did not manipulate the tiles than when they did. Manipulating the external environment in this task enhanced performance and reduced the contribution of internal processes, including working memory.

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