Slowing in reading and picture naming: the effects of aging and developmental dyslexia

Maria De Luca, Chiara Valeria Marinelli, Donatella Spinelli, Pierluigi Zoccolotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the slowing in vocal reaction times shown by dyslexic (compared to control) children with that of older (compared to younger) adults using an approach focusing on the detection of global, non-task-specific components. To address this aim, data were analyzed with reference to the difference engine (DEM) and rate and amount (RAM) models. In Experiment 1, typically developing children, children with dyslexia (both attending sixth grade), younger adults and older adults read words and non-words and named pictures. In Experiment 2, word and picture conditions were presented to dyslexic and control children attending eighth grade. In both experiments, dyslexic children were delayed in reading conditions, while they were unimpaired in naming pictures (a finding which indicates spared access to the phonological lexicon). The reading difficulty was well accounted for by a single multiplicative factor while only the residual effect of length (but not frequency and lexicality) was present after controlling for over-additivity using a linear mixed effects model with random slopes on critical variables. Older adults were slower than younger adults across reading and naming conditions. This deficit was well described by a single multiplicative factor. Thus, while slowing of information processing is limited to orthographic stimuli in dyslexic children, it cuts across verbal tasks in older adults. Overall, speed differences in groups such as dyslexic children and older adults can be effectively described with reference to deficits in domains encompassing a variety of experimental conditions rather than deficits in single specific task/conditions. The DEM and RAM prove effective in teasing out global vs. specific components of performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3093-3109
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Aging
  • Difference engine model
  • Dyslexia
  • Picture naming
  • Rate and amount model
  • Reading
  • Vocal reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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