Dual-task interference effects in early adolescents who differ in reading and spelling abilities




Mather, David Stead

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Few studies have investigated the differences between poor readers/poor spellers (SRD) and good readers who demonstrate unexpectedly poor spelling skills (SSD). Those that have done so have been mainly concerned with searching for psycholinguistic similarities and differences. This dissertation project is believed to be the first comparison of the two disorders on a task that did not involve the use of alphanumeric stimuli. From a review of neuropsychological and language arts research into reading and spelling failure, it was hypothesized that both SSD and SRD might be differentiated from good reader/superior spellers (GRS) by their responses to a line orientation task which had been proven to be a valid indicator of right hemisphere function. A previous study had found that this task, presented concurrently with right or left hand tapping, discriminated between good and poor Native Indian readers (Stellern, Collins, Cossairt & Gutierrez, 1986). The theoretical underpinning of the current study suggested that these results may have been more closely related to spelling than reading ability. Empirical support for this hypothesis was sought by comparing the performance of SSD, SRD and GRS early adolescents on the concurrent tapping-line orientation judgement task. The data supported this hypothesis in that the SSD and SRD groups differed from the GRS group in demonstrating significantly more tapping interference in the right hand condition. Unexpectedly, however, all three groups performed similarly with respect to rate and accuracy in judging line orientation. As these results were ambiguous as to whether the right hand tapping interference experienced by the poor spellers was the result of differences in hemisphere processing of spatial stimuli, other possible explanations are considered in the discussion.



Reading disability, Spelling disability