Brain. 2003 Apr;126(Pt 4):841-65.
Theories of developmental dyslexia: insights from a multiple case study of dyslexic adults.
Ramus F, Rosen S, Dakin SC, Day BL, Castellote JM, White S, Frith U.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
A multiple case study was conducted in order to assess three leading theories of developmental dyslexia: (i) the phonological theory, (ii) the magnocellular (auditory and visual) theory and (iii) the cerebellar theory. Sixteen dyslexic and 16 control university students were administered a full battery of psychometric, phonological, auditory, visual and cerebellar tests. Individual data reveal that all 16 dyslexics suffer from a phonological deficit, 10 from an auditory deficit, four from a motor deficit and two from a visual magnocellular deficit. Results suggest that a phonological deficit can appear in the absence of any other sensory or motor disorder, and is sufficient to cause a literacy impairment, as demonstrated by five of the dyslexics. Auditory disorders, when present, aggravate the phonological deficit, hence the literacy impairment. However, auditory deficits cannot be characterized simply as rapid auditory processing problems, as would be predicted by the magnocellular theory. Nor are they restricted to speech. Contrary to the cerebellar theory, we find little support for the notion that motor impairments, when found, have a cerebellar origin or reflect an automaticity deficit. Overall, the present data support the phonological theory of dyslexia, while acknowledging the presence of additional sensory and motor disorders in certain individuals.