Encoding order and developmental dyslexia: a family of skills predicting different orthographic components

Cristina Romani*, Effie Tsouknida, Andrew Olson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated order encoding in developmental dyslexia using a task that presented nonalphanumeric visual characters either simultaneously or sequentially—to tap spatial and temporal order encoding, respectively—and asked participants to reproduce their order. Dyslexic participants performed poorly in the sequential condition, but normally in the simultaneous condition, except for positions most susceptible to interference. These results are novel in demonstrating a selective difficulty with temporal order encoding in a dyslexic group. We also tested the associations between our order reconstruction tasks and: (a) lexical learning and phonological tasks; and (b) different reading and spelling tasks. Correlations were extensive when the whole group of participants was considered together. When dyslexics and controls were considered separately, different patterns of association emerged between orthographic tasks on the one side and tasks tapping order encoding, phonological processing, and written learning on the other. These results indicate that different skills support different aspects of orthographic processing and are impaired to different degrees in individuals with dyslexia. Therefore, developmental dyslexia is not caused by a single impairment, but by a family of deficits loosely related to difficulties with order. Understanding the contribution of these different deficits will be crucial to deepen our understanding of this disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-128
Number of pages30
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date23 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).


  • developmental dyslexia
  • lexical learning
  • sequential presentation
  • serial order
  • visual impairments


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