Study: Rapid Naming Not Part of the Phonological Deficit in Poor Readers

Rapid naming refers to the speed with which the names of symbols (letters, numbers, colors, or pictured objects) can be retrieved from long-term memory (De Jong & van der Leij, 2003). This process is often termed rapid automatized naming (RAN), and people with dyslexia typically score poorer on RAN assessments than normal readers (Elliott & Grigorenko, 2014).

Deficits in rapid naming is often viewed as part of the phonological deficit in poor readers (Ramus & Szenkovits, 2008). Wolf and Bowers (1999), however, claim that it constitutes a separate construct that is related to reading independently. According to the double deficit hypothesis model (Wolf & Bowers, 1999), people with dyslexia can be subdivided into three groups: those with phonological awareness (PA) difficulties but with average RAN ability, those with a RAN deficit but average PA skills, and those with both PA and RAN difficulties. According to this model, those with the double deficit would be likely to have the most severe form of reading difficulties.

In a longitudinal study, Landerl et al. (2018) examined 1,120 children acquiring one of five alphabetic orthographies with different degrees of orthographic complexity (English, French, German, Dutch, and Greek). While RAN was a universal predictor of reading in five alphabetic orthographies varying in consistency, no consistent pattern appeared for the PA–reading relationship. The researchers conclude that phonological awareness’s direct contribution to reading development might be less causal than is generally assumed. They speculate that instead of being a prerequisite for learning to read, PA may function as a corequisite skill for typical reading development.

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De Jong, P. F., & van der Leij, A. (2003). Developmental changes in the manifestation of a phonological deficit in dyslexic children learning to read a regular orthography. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 22-40.

Elliott, J. G., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2014). The dyslexia debate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Landerl, K., Freudenthaler, H. H., Heene, M., de Jong, P. F., Desrochers, A., Manolitsis, G., … Georgiou, G. K. (2018). Phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming as longitudinal predictors of reading in five alphabetic orthographies with varying degrees of consistency. Scientific Studies of Reading, 1-15.

Ramus, F., & Szenkovits, G. (2008). What phonological deficit? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(1), 129-141.

Wolf, M., & Bowers, P. G. (1999). The double-deficit hypothesis for the developmental dyslexias. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(3), 415-438.

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