Pragmatic competence and its relationship with the linguistic and cognitive profile of young adults with dyslexia

Gloria Cappelli, Sabrina Noccetti, Giorgio Arcara, Valentina Bambini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study assessed the pragmatic skills of 19 well-compensated Italian-speaking young adults with dyslexia compared with controls. A comprehensive pragmatic assessment tool was employed, targeting production and comprehension (Assessment of Pragmatic Abilities and Cognitive Substrates [APACS]). Participants were also administered a series of standardized tests to assess verbal and non-verbal cognitive abilities, including executive functions and social cognition tests. Data were analysed with the aim of understanding whether pragmatic abilities are compromised in dyslexia and of exploring associations between pragmatic performance and other cognitive domains. The performance of the dyslexia group was poorer than that of the control group in both expressive and receptive modalities. Data showed diffuse problems across several domains, with the greatest challenge posed by inferring nonliteral meanings, which indicates that pragmatic inefficiency is an important aspect of the linguistic and communicative profile of dyslexia in adulthood. Explorative correlations highlighted a relation between pragmatic performance and reading and vocabulary abilities, as well as between pragmatics and working memory. This suggests that pragmatic difficulties are strongly tied to the most distinctive aspects of dyslexia, namely, phonological awareness, verbal short-term memory, pseudo-word repetition, whereas the link with high-level executive functions and Theory of Mind is negligible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-306
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018


  • figurative language
  • inference
  • narratives
  • pragmatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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