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Distinguishing cause from effect - Many deficits associated with developmental dyslexia may be a consequence of reduced and suboptimal reading experience

Huettig, F., Lachmann, T., Reis, A., & Petersson, K. M. (2017). Distinguishing cause from effect - Many deficits associated with developmental dyslexia may be a consequence of reduced and suboptimal reading experience. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/23273798.2017.1348528.
The cause of developmental dyslexia is still unknown despite decades of intense research. Many causal explanations have been proposed, based on the range of impairments displayed by affected individuals. Here we draw attention to the fact that many of these impairments are also shown by illiterate individuals who have not received any or very little reading instruction. We suggest that this fact may not be coincidental and that the performance differences of both illiterates and individuals with dyslexia compared to literate controls are, to a substantial extent, secondary consequences of either reduced or suboptimal reading experience or a combination of both. The search for the primary causes of reading impairments will make progress if the consequences of quantitative and qualitative differences in reading experience are better taken into account and not mistaken for the causes of reading disorders. We close by providing four recommendations for future research.
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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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