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Richard Johnston, Nicola J. Pitchford, Neil W. Roach, Timothy Ledgeway; Encoding of rapid time-varying information is impaired in poor readers. Journal of Vision 2017;17(5):1. doi: 10.1167/17.5.1.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
A characteristic set of eye movements and fixations are made during reading, so the position of words on the retinae is constantly being updated. Effective decoding of print requires this temporal stream of visual information to be segmented or parsed into its constituent units (e.g., letters or words). Poor readers' difficulties with word recognition could arise at the point of segmenting time-varying visual information, but the mechanisms underlying this process are little understood. Here, we used random-dot displays to explore the effects of reading ability on temporal segmentation. Thirty-eight adult readers viewed test stimuli that were temporally segmented by constraining either local motions or analogous form cues to oscillate back and fourth at each of a range of rates. Participants had to discriminate these segmented patterns from comparison stimuli containing the same motion and form cues but these were temporally intermingled. Results showed that the motion and form tasks could not be performed reliably when segment duration was shorter than a temporal resolution (acuity) limit. The acuity limits for both tasks were significantly and negatively correlated with reading scores. Importantly, the minimum segment duration needed to detect the temporally segmented stimuli was longer in relatively poor readers than relatively good readers. This demonstrates that adult poor readers have difficulty segmenting temporally changing visual input particularly at short segment durations. These results are consistent with evidence suggesting that precise encoding of rapid time-varying information is impaired in developmental dyslexia.
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