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Sound-symbolism is disrupted in dyslexia: Implications for the role of cross-modal abstraction processes

Drijvers, L., Zaadnoordijk, L., & Dingemanse, M. (2015). Sound-symbolism is disrupted in dyslexia: Implications for the role of cross-modal abstraction processes. In D. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2015) (pp. 602-607). Austin, Tx: Cognitive Science Society.
Research into sound-symbolism has shown that people can consistently associate certain pseudo-words with certain referents; for instance, pseudo-words with rounded vowels and sonorant consonants are linked to round shapes, while pseudowords with unrounded vowels and obstruents (with a noncontinuous airflow), are associated with sharp shapes. Such sound-symbolic associations have been proposed to arise from cross-modal abstraction processes. Here we assess the link between sound-symbolism and cross-modal abstraction by testing dyslexic individuals’ ability to make sound-symbolic associations. Dyslexic individuals are known to have deficiencies in cross-modal processing. We find that dyslexic individuals are impaired in their ability to make sound-symbolic associations relative to the controls. Our results shed light on the cognitive underpinnings of sound-symbolism by providing novel evidence for the role —and disruptability— of cross-modal abstraction processes in sound-symbolic eects.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

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