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Revista Psicopedagogia

Print version ISSN 0103-8486


MENDES, Luciana; MAIA, Marcus  and  GOMES, Gastão Coelho. Dyslexia and the syntactic processing. Rev. psicopedag. [online]. 2010, vol.27, n.82, pp. 47-58. ISSN 0103-8486.

INTRODUCTION: Dyslexia is a specific reading disorder widely studied in various areas of scientific knowledge. It has been demonstrated that dyslexics have phonological deficits in reading. METHODS: In order to investigate the level of syntactic processing, we conducted this research focusing on the analysis of sensitivity to syntactic attachment and agreement between subject and verb in relative clauses attached to a complex noun phrase in Brazilian Portuguese, contrasting dyslexic children with children without reading problems. RESULTS: The results showed that normal children display a preference for local attachment of the relative clause in the immediate processing of the sentence (online processing), whereas dyslexic children do not show early sensitivity to syntactic attachment in this type of structure. In the interpretation stage of comprehension (off-line processing), both groups, dyslexic and non-dyslexics, displayed a similar preference for the non-local attachment of the relative clause. CONCLUSION: We concluded that, although there is differentiation in the online processing between the groups, in the off-line processing, there is no significant difference between the groups. These results support the existence of processing models in two stages: an early phase, where the parser works, and a late stage of interpretation. The early phase is purely syntactic whereas the late stage may be influenced by semantic and pragmatic information. Dyslexics seem to rely solely on the final interpretation, using semantic cues related to the head of the noun phrase. In relation to the school context of dyslexics, this research reinforces the idea that dyslexics have no trouble understanding the material read, although they will take more time to read.

Keywords : Dyslexia; Reading; Psycholinguistics; Speech, language and hearing sciences; Linguistics.

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