Annamaria Pepi Anna Fratantonio Daniela Lo Cascio Agata Maltese

The role of contextual information and the influence of syllabic and stress structures during decoding of written text: a comparison between developmental dyslexics and good readers

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The experiment investigated the role of contextual facilitation and the influence of different syllabic and stress structures during the decoding of developmental dyslexics and good readers. Forty-six children, twenty-three dyslexics and twenty-three good readers, decoded sentences with a target word placed in two different positions, either on the right (to the end of the sentence) or on the left (on the beginning of the sentence), to value the influence of semantic cues during reading. Target words were selected on the basis of different syllabic and stress structures: irregular stress (on the third last syllable) and structure of second-last syllable open (ending with a vowel); regular stress (on the second-last syllable) and structure of second-last syllable open; regular stress an structure of second-last syllable close (ending with a consonant). This selection was made in order to assess the ability of reading target words with different syllabic and stress structures. The results showed that text reading performance (correct positioning of word stress and speed in decoding the whole sentence) of dyslexics was below that of good readers. In particular, dyslexic children showed more contextual facilitation than good readers, decoding better the target word when it was placed to the end of the sentence than when it was placed to the beginning of the sentence. Moreover, dyslexics showed more syllabic and stress structure influence, in fact their performance was worse in the case of irregularly stressed word and in the case of words with open second-last syllable.


  • Developmental dyslexia
  • stress assignment
  • syllabic structure
  • contextual facilitation
  • semantic cues


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