The relationship between motor control and phonology in dyslexic children

Ramus, Franck and Pidgeon, Elizabeth and Frith, Uta (2002) The relationship between motor control and phonology in dyslexic children. [Journal (Paginated)] (In Press)

Full text available as:



Background: The goal of this study was to investigate the automaticity/cerebellar theory of dyslexia. We tested phonological skills and cerebellar function in a group of dyslexic 8-12 year old children and their matched controls. Tests administered included the Phonological Assessment Battery, postural stability, bead threading, finger to thumb and time estimation. Results: Dyslexic children were found to be significantly poorer than the controls at all tasks but time estimation. About 75% of dyslexics were more than one standard deviation below controls in phonological ability, and 50% were similarly impaired in motor skills. However, at least part of the discrepancy in motor skills was due to dyslexic individuals who had additional disorders (ADHD and/or DCD). The absence of evidence for a time estimation deficit also casts doubt on the cerebellar origin of the motor deficiency. About half the dyslexic children didn't have any motor problem, and there was no evidence for a causal relationship between motor skills on the one hand and phonological and reading skills on the other. Conclusion: This study provides partial support for the presence of motor problems in dyslexic children, but does not support the hypothesis that a cerebellar dysfunction is the cause of their phonological and reading impairment.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Additional Information:Check the alternative location for the final pdf reprint.
Keywords:dyslexia, reading, phonology, cerebellum, automaticity, motor control
Subjects:Neuroscience > Neuropsychology
Psychology > Developmental Psychology
Psychology > Clinical Psychology
Neuroscience > Behavioral Neuroscience
ID Code:2349
Deposited By:Ramus, Dr Franck
Deposited On:25 Jul 2002
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. E. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read -- a causal connection. Nature, 301, 419-421.

Brown, W. E., Eliez, S., Menon, V., Rumsey, J. M., White, C. D., & Reiss, A. L. (2001). Preliminary evidence of widespread morphological variations of the brain in dyslexia. Neurology, 56(6), 781-3.

Brunswick, N., McCrory, E., Price, C. J., Frith, C. D., & Frith, U. (1999). Explicit and implicit processing of words and pseudowords by adult developmental dyslexics: A search for Wernicke's Wortschatz? Brain, 122 ( Pt 10), 1901-17.

Cossu, G. (submitted). The role of output speech in literacy acquisition: Evidence from congenital anarthria.

Cromer, R. F. (1980). Spontaneous spelling by language-disordered children. U. Frith (Ed.), Cognitive processes in spelling (pp. 405-421). London: Academic Press.

Denckla, M. B. (1985). Motor coordination in children with dyslexia: Theoretical and clinical implications. F. H. Duffy, & N. Geschwind (Eds.), Dyslexia: A neuroscientific approach . Boston: Little Brown.

Denckla, M. B., Rudel, R. G., Chapman, C., & Krieger, J. (1985). Motor proficiency in dyslexic children with and without attentional disorders. Arch Neurol, 42(3), 228-31.

Dow, R. S., & Moruzzi, G. (1958). The physiology and pathology of the cerebellum. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Eliez, S., Rumsey, J. M., Giedd, J. N., Schmitt, J. E., Patwardhan, A. J., & Reiss, A. L. (2000). Morphological alteration of temporal lobe gray matter in dyslexia: an MRI study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 41(5), 637-44.

Fawcett, A. J., & Nicolson, R. I. (1995). Persistent deficits in motor skill of children with dyslexia. Journal of Motor Behavior, 27(3), 235-240.

Fawcett, A. J., & Nicolson, R. I. (1996). The Dyslexia Screening Test. London: The Psychological Corporation.

Fawcett, A. J., Nicolson, R. I., & Dean, P. (1996). Impaired performance of children with dyslexia on a range of cerebellar tasks. Annals of Dyslexia, 46, 259-283.

Fourcin, A. J. (1975a). Language development in the absence of expressive speech. E. H. Lenneberg, & E. Lenneberg (Eds), Foundations of Language Development, Vol. 2 (pp. 263-268). New York: Academic Press.

Fourcin, A. J. (1975b). Speech perception in the absence of speech productive ability. N. O'Connor (Ed), Language, cognitive deficits and retardation (pp. 33-43). London: Butterworths.

Frederickson, N., Frith, U., & Reason, R. (1997). Phonological Assessment Battery. Windsor: NFER-NELSON.

Haslum, M. N. (1989). Predictors of dyslexia? Irish Journal of Psychology, 10, 622-630.

Hatfield, F. M., & Walton, K. (1975). Phonological patterns in a case of aphasia. Language and Speech, 18 , 341-357.

Ivry, R. B., & Justus, T. C. (2001). A neural instantiation of the motor theory of speech perception. Trends Neurosci, 24(9), 513-5.

Ivry, R. B., & Keele, S. W. (1989). Timing functions of the cerebellum. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 1, 136-152.

Kadesjö, B., & Gillberg, C. (2001). The comorbidity of ADHD in the general population of Swedish school-age children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 42(4), 487-92.

Kaplan, B. J., Wilson, B. N., Dewey, D., & Crawford, S. G. (1998). DCD may not be a discrete disorder. Human Movement Science, 17, 471-490.

Kelly, S. W., Griffiths, S., & Frith, U. (in press). Evidence for automatisation of sequence learning in dyslexia. Dyslexia.

Lenneberg, E. H. (1962). Understanding language without ability to speak: A case report. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 65(6), 419-425.

Leonard, C. M., Eckert, M. A., Lombardino, L. J., Oakland, T., Kranzler, J., Mohr, C. M., King, W. M., & Freeman, A. (2001). Anatomical risk factors for phonological dyslexia. Cereb Cortex, 11(2), 148-57.

Liberman, A. M., Cooper, F. S., Harris, K. S., & MacNeilage, P. J. (1963). A motor theory of speech perception. Proceedings of the Symposium on Speech Communication Seminar, Paper D3, Vol. II. Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology.

Liberman, A. M., & Mattingly, I. G. (1985). The motor theory of speech perception revised. Cognition, 21, 1-36.

Lovegrove, W. J., Bwoling, A., Badcock, B., & Blackwood, M. (1980). Specific reading disability: differences in contrast sensitivity as a function of spatial frequency. Science, 210(4468), 439-440.

McCrory, E., Frith, U., Brunswick, N., & Price, C. (2000). Abnormal functional activation during a simple word repetition task: A PET study of adult dyslexics. J Cogn Neurosci, 12(5), 753-62.

Nicolson, R. I., & Fawcett, A. J. (1990). Automaticity: a new framework for dyslexia research? Cognition, 35(2), 159-182.

Nicolson, R. I., & Fawcett, A. J. (1994). Reaction times and dyslexia. Q.J.Exp.Psychol.[A], 47(1), 29-48.

Nicolson, R. I., & Fawcett, A. J. (1995). Dyslexia is more than a phonological disability. Dyslexia, 1, 19-36.

Nicolson, R. I., & Fawcett, A. J. (2000). Long-term learning in dyslexic children. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 12(3), 357-393.

Nicolson, R. I., Fawcett, A. J., Berry, E. L., Jenkins, I. H., Dean, P., & Brooks, D. J. (1999). Association of abnormal cerebellar activation with motor learning difficulties in dyslexic adults. Lancet, 353(9165), 1662-1667.

Nicolson, R. I., Fawcett, A. J., & Dean, P. (1995). Time estimation deficits in developmental dyslexia: evidence of cerebellar involvement. Proc.R.Soc.Lond B Biol.Sci., 259(1354), 43-47.

Nicolson, R. I., Fawcett, A. J., & Dean, P. (2001). Dyslexia, development and the cerebellum. Trends Neurosci, 24(9), 515-6.

Rae, C., Lee, M. A., Dixon, R. M., Blamire, A. M., Thompson, C. H., Styles, P., Talcott, J., Richardson, A. J., & Stein, J. F. (1998). Metabolic abnormalities in developmental dyslexia detected by 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Lancet, 351(9119), 1849-52.

Snowling, M. J. (1987). Dyslexia: A cognitive developmental perspective. Oxford: Blackwell.

Snowling, M. J. (2000). Dyslexia (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.

Stein, J., & Walsh, V. (1997). To see but not to read; the magnocellular theory of dyslexia. Trends Neurosci., 20(4), 147-152.

Stringer, R., & Stanovich, K. E. (1998). On the possibility of cerebellar involvement in reading disability. 4th conference of the Society for Scientific Studies of Reading San Diego.

Tallal, P., Miller, S., & Fitch, R. H. (1993). Neurobiological basis of speech: a case for the preeminence of temporal processing. Ann.N.Y.Acad.Sci., 682, 27-47.

van Daal, V., & van der Leij, A. (1999). Developmental dyslexia: Related to specific or general deficits? Annals of Dyslexia, 49, 71-104.

Vellutino, F. R. (1979). Dyslexia: Research and Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wechsler, D. (1992). The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edition. London: The Psychological Corporation.

Wilkinson, G. S. (1993). Wide Range Achievement Test 3. Wilmington, DE: Wide Range.

Wimmer, H., Mayringer, H., & Landerl, K. (1998). Poor reading: A deficit in skill-automatization or a phonological deficit? Scientific Studies of Reading, 2(4), 321-340.

Wimmer, H., Mayringer, H., & Raberger, T. (1999). Reading and dual-task balancing: Evidence against the automatization deficit explanation of developmental dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32(5), 473-478.

Wolff, P. H., Cohen, C., & Drake, C. (1984). Impaired motor timing control in specific reading retardation. Neuropsychologia, 22(5), 587-600.

Yap, R. L., & van der Leij, A. (1994). Testing the automatization deficit hypothesis of dyslexia via a dual- task paradigm. J Learn Disabil, 27(10), 660-5.


Repository Staff Only: item control page