Developmental dyslexia: A motor-articulatory feedback hypothesis

Academic Article


  • Reading is mediated by parallel and widely distributed modular systems. There are, therefore, multiple loci in these systems where dysfunction may lead to developmental dyslexia. However, most normal children learn to read using the alphabetic system. Learning to use this system requires awareness that words are comprised of a series of speech sounds (phonological awareness) and the knowledge of how to convert letters (graphemes) into these speech sounds (phonemes). Most dyslexic children have deficient phonological awareness and have difficulty converting graphemes into phonemes. Studies of patients with acquired lesions who are unable to convert graphemes into phonemes, as well as positron emission tomographic studies of normal subjects, suggest that the left inferior frontal lobe is important in phonologic reading. Phonetic gestures are represented in the brain as invariant motor commands that program the articulators. Phonologic reading may activate the left inferior frontal lobe because grapheme-to- phoneme conversion requires activation of these motor-articulatory gestures. Dyslexic children are unaware of the position of their articulators during speech. The inability to associate the position of their articulators with speech sounds may impair the development of phonological awareness and the ability to convert graphemes to phonemes. Unawareness of their articulators may be related to programming or feedback deficits.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Heilman KM; Voeller K; Alexander AW
  • Start Page

  • 407
  • End Page

  • 412
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 3