N1 Specialization in Children with Dyslexia

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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It's been a little while, but we've been talking about the N1 component and how it relates to reading. Just to recap, the N1 component is an ERP component occurring at around 170 ms. In normal reading adults, the component is stronger for words than for symbols. We will refer to the words minus symbols difference as “N1 specialization for words .” Pre-reading kindergartners do not have this N1 specialization, while second graders have a stronger N1 specialization compared to adults. Today we focus on children with dyslexia.
As you might've guessed, Maurer and colleagues did the same experiment on children with dyslexia as well (see previous article for more information on what they did). These are the findings:

1. N1 specialization for words over symbols was much reduced in dyslexic second graders compared to normal reading second graders.

2. N1 specialization correlated with reading speed in second graders.

3. Interestingly, although dyslexic second graders had reduced specialization, they actually had a greater specialization two years earlier (in kindergarten) than their normal reading counterparts. I'm not quite sure why this would be.

4. In addition to the N1 difference, there was also a reduced response in the earlier P1 component in children with dyslexia (at both ages – kindergarten and second grade). This reduction was general for both words and symbols though, and not specialized to words.

Maurer U, Brem S, Bucher K, Kranz F, Benz R, Steinhausen HC, & Brandeis D (2007). Impaired tuning of a fast occipito-temporal response for print in dyslexic children learning to read. Brain : a journal of neurology, 130 (Pt 12), 3200-10 PMID: 17728359


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