Semantic typicality effects in acquired dyslexia: Evidence for semantic impairment in deep dyslexia

Ellyn A. Riley, Cynthia K. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Acquired deep dyslexia is characterised by impairment in grapheme-phoneme conversion and production of semantic errors in oral reading. Several theories have attempted to explain the production of semantic errors in deep dyslexia, some proposing that they arise from impairments in both grapheme-phoneme and lexical-semantic processing, and others proposing that such errors stem from a deficit in phonological production. Whereas both views have gained some acceptance, the limited evidence available does not clearly eliminate the possibility that semantic errors arise from a lexical-semantic input-processing deficit. Aims: To investigate semantic processing in deep dyslexia this study examined the typicality effect in deep dyslexic individuals, phonological dyslexic individuals, and controls using an online category verification paradigm. This task requires explicit semantic access without speech production, focusing observation on semantic processing from written or spoken input. Methods & Procedures: To examine the locus of semantic impairment, the task was administered in visual and auditory modalities with reaction time as the primary dependent measure. Nine controls, six phonological dyslexic participants, and five deep dyslexic participants completed the study. Outcomes & Results: Controls and phonological dyslexic participants demonstrated a typicality effect in both modalities, while deep dyslexic participants did not demonstrate a typicality effect in either modality. Conclusions: These findings suggest that deep dyslexia is associated with a semantic processing deficit. Although this does not rule out the possibility of concomitant deficits in other modules of lexical-semantic processing, this finding suggests a direction for treatment of deep dyslexia focused on semantic processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-813
Number of pages12
Issue number6-8
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep dyslexia
  • Semantic typicality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • LPN and LVN


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