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      Contributions of Letter-Speech Sound Learning and Visual Print Tuning to Reading Improvement: Evidence from Brain Potential and Dyslexia Training Studies

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          We use a neurocognitive perspective to discuss the contribution of learning letter-speech sound (L-SS) associations and visual specialization in the initial phases of reading in dyslexic children. We review findings from associative learning studies on related cognitive skills important for establishing and consolidating L-SS associations. Then we review brain potential studies, including our own, that yielded two markers associated with reading fluency. Here we show that the marker related to visual specialization (N170) predicts word and pseudoword reading fluency in children who received additional practice in the processing of morphological word structure. Conversely, L-SS integration (indexed by mismatch negativity (MMN)) may only remain important when direct orthography to semantic conversion is not possible, such as in pseudoword reading. In addition, the correlation between these two markers supports the notion that multisensory integration facilitates visual specialization. Finally, we review the role of implicit learning and executive functions in audiovisual learning in dyslexia. Implications for remedial research are discussed and suggestions for future studies are presented.

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          Most cited references 145

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          The mismatch negativity (MMN) in basic research of central auditory processing: a review.

          In the present article, the basic research using the mismatch negativity (MMN) and analogous results obtained by using the magnetoencephalography (MEG) and other brain-imaging technologies is reviewed. This response is elicited by any discriminable change in auditory stimulation but recent studies extended the notion of the MMN even to higher-order cognitive processes such as those involving grammar and semantic meaning. Moreover, MMN data also show the presence of automatic intelligent processes such as stimulus anticipation at the level of auditory cortex. In addition, the MMN enables one to establish the brain processes underlying the initiation of attention switch to, conscious perception of, sound change in an unattended stimulus stream.
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            Attentional requirements of learning: Evidence from performance measures

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              The visual word form area: expertise for reading in the fusiform gyrus.

              Brain imaging studies reliably localize a region of visual cortex that is especially responsive to visual words. This brain specialization is essential to rapid reading ability because it enhances perception of words by becoming specifically tuned to recurring properties of a writing system. The origin of this specialization poses a challenge for evolutionary accounts involving innate mechanisms for functional brain organization. We propose an alternative account, based on studies of other forms of visual expertise (i.e. bird and car experts) that lead to functional reorganization. We argue that the interplay between the unique demands of word reading and the structural constraints of the visual system lead to the emergence of the Visual Word Form Area.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Brain Sci
                Brain Sci
                Brain Sciences
                18 January 2017
                January 2017
                : 7
                : 1
                [1 ]Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1018 WS, The Netherlands; j.tijms@ (J.T.); M.W.vanderMolen@ (M.W.v.d.M.)
                [2 ]Rudolf Berlin Center, Amsterdam 1018 WS, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht 6200 MD, The Netherlands; gojko.zaric@ (G.Ž.); m.bonte@ (M.B.)
                [4 ]Maastricht Brain Imaging Center, Maastricht University, Maastricht 6200 MD, The Netherlands
                [5 ]IWAL Institute, Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1001 EW, The Netherlands
                [6 ]Amsterdam Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1018 WT, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: g.fragagonzalez@ ; Tel.: +31-681-403-984

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                © 2017 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (



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