The First Nata Goulandris Memorial Lecture
First Nata Goulandris Memorial Lecture

The effect of orthography on reading
and reading problems
Uta Frith
UCL - Institut...
A tribute to Nata Goulandris

This Memorial lecture takes its key themes from
Nata’s main research interests
•
•
•
•

Her ...
Nata’s passionate interest in reading
and spelling research
The Greek origin of the alphabet

Alpha
Beta
Gamma
Delta

Αα
Β...
Orthography and
the origins of the alphabet
• Orthos = right, correct
• Graphy = writing

ορτοσ
γραφειν

• Different ways ...
European Project
A comparison of
Italian, French and English readers
•

Eraldo Paulesu, F. Fazio, D. Perani, S. Cappa, G. ...
Aims
of the
Project

Does depth of orthography affect reading
strategy and efficiency?
Does it affect dyslexia?
Is dyslexi...
Depth of orthography

Shallow orthography
what you see is what you hear
Speech sound is encoded
Each letter maps to one so...
Shallow orthography
The relationship of print-to-sound is transparent
As in Italian
Roma - Milano

N.B.
There is ambiguity...
Deep orthography
Ambiguous print - sound mappings
at both segmental and supra-segmental levels
As in English
Leicester - N...
The ambigous print-to-sound mappings of English
rough
though
you
journal
would
out
ourselves
thought
Differences in reading strategy
in shallow and deep orthographies

Behavioural study
reading words, non-words
and control ...
Behavioural study
Participants
72 ordinary university students
• 36 from London
• (mean age 20.6 sd 3.3)
• 36 from Milan
•...
Latencies for words and nonwords
55 0

English RED
Italian GREEN

*

50 0

*
msec

45 0

*

En gl i sh
I t al i an

40 0

...
Latencies for ‘International’ words
550

msec

500

English RED
Italian GREEN

*

450

Engl i s h
I t al i an

400

350

3...
Summary - Italian readers

• Italian readers read faster
• They are even faster reading non-words
Taking advantage of
unam...
Summary - English readers

• English readers read more slowly
• Even more so when reading non-words
- need to disambiguate...
Reading strategy shaped by orthography
shaped by language
shaped by culture

Are the different reading strategies
visible ...
Neuroimaging studies
What happens in the brain
when we see print?
Explicit reading (words vs nothing)
“read aloud”

Implic...
Greater activation in English readers in
‘word naming area’
Greater activation in Italian readers in
‘Letter-sound decoding area’
The brain is affected by differences in
orthography
Extensive common activation
of the same left hemisphere language netwo...
How do differences in
orthography affect dyslexia?
Different manifestations in different cultures
What is stable? what is ...
Dyslexia - the behavioural signs
in English
WORK BY MAGGIE SNOWLING

A developmental disorder
Pre-school children
difficul...
Is dyslexia a different disorder
in different cultures?

Estimates of prevalence of dyslexia are often
lower than in Engli...
European Project
Part II

Is dyslexia a different disorder in different languages?

A comparison of
Italian - French - Eng...
Problems of subject selection
In Uk and France
Adult volunteers previously diagnosed
known difficulties in reading and wri...
Similar participants
Full WAIS - standardised in three countries
all highly able students
WAIS subtests where English dyslexics
show impaired performance
Digit Span
Arithmetic
Digit Symbol
All involve short term ...
Tests where English dyslexics are impaired

Reaction time to name words, digits
Word Span: Short Term Memory
Spoonerisms
[...
Similar stimuli across
the three languages
Words
(frequent regular nouns)

UK carrot river banana
IT grano terra banana
FR...
Naming latencies

1400
1200
1000
800
Dyslexics
Controls

600
400
200
0
UK

IT
Nonwords

FR

UK
Words

IT

FR
Digit Naming

35
30
25
20

Dyslexics
Controls

15
10
5
0
UK

IT

FR
Spoonerisms

250
200
150
Dyslexics
Controls

100
50
0
UK

IT

FR
Word Span

50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

Dyslexics
Controls

UK

IT
Short

UK
Long

IT
Italian dyslexics just as different from
normally reading controls - as others
even though not diagnosed
Slow reading and ...
Neuroimaging
PET scans of
explicit and implicit reading
12 dyslexics in each country
12 controls in each country
Total = 7...
normal

Reduced activation in dyslexia

dyslexic
What are the differences?
comparing exposure to print vs baseline
in normal and dyslexic readers
In English, French, Itali...
Are there subtle anatomical
differences
in the brains of dyslexics?
(Giorgia Silani et al., 2005)

Investigate whole brain...
Function

Brain areas that are more
active in normal readers
than dyslexic readers

Structure

Yellow/red: decrease in gre...
Differences in white matter
density
The arcuate fasciculus
connecting regions
of the speech system
Less dense white matter...
Dyslexic FR

high
grey matter density

French
low

fast

reading speed

slow

Dyslexic IT

grey matter density
Dyslexic UK...
What does this brain region do?

• Part of the speech processing system
• Active when things are named
– Words, pictures, ...
Nikolopoulos,
Goulandris,
Hulme and
Snowling, 2006

•
•
•
•

Rare longitudinal study of Greek readers, age 7 -9
Speech rat...
Taking dyslexia seriously

• The underlying neurological problem persists
as shown in brain imaging studies
• Compensation...
Dyslexia
Biological Unity
• universal neuro-cognitive basis
– for reading (explicit and implicit)

Cultural diversity
• di...
Dyslexia less of a handicap when
acquiring a shallow orthography

But hidden cases
Slow reading and
speech processing diff...
Dyslexia lecture 2006
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Dyslexia lecture 2006

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Lecture given at University of London's Institute of Education
on dyslexia research

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Dyslexia lecture 2006

  1. 1. The First Nata Goulandris Memorial Lecture
  2. 2. First Nata Goulandris Memorial Lecture The effect of orthography on reading and reading problems Uta Frith UCL - Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience 5th June 2006
  3. 3. A tribute to Nata Goulandris This Memorial lecture takes its key themes from Nata’s main research interests • • • • Her interest and research on reading and spelling Her interest in different orthographies Her interest in cross-language comparisons Her interest in dyslexia
  4. 4. Nata’s passionate interest in reading and spelling research The Greek origin of the alphabet Alpha Beta Gamma Delta Αα Ββ Γγ Δδ
  5. 5. Orthography and the origins of the alphabet • Orthos = right, correct • Graphy = writing ορτοσ γραφειν • Different ways of writing down the sounds of speech • The alphabet provides a unique key for mapping speech sounds at sub-segmental level – Below sentence level, below word level, below syllable level • Vowels - the great Greek invention • The shapes of letters, the names of letters, the set of letters used in European writing systems are all based on their original Greek forms.
  6. 6. European Project A comparison of Italian, French and English readers • Eraldo Paulesu, F. Fazio, D. Perani, S. Cappa, G. Cossu, G. Silani and others • Milan, Brescia, Parma • Jean-Francois Démonet, V. Chanoine, M. Habib and others • Toulouse, Marseille, Grenoble • Cathy Price, E. McCrory, N. Brunswick, C. Frith, U. Frith and others • UCL - FIL and ICN
  7. 7. Aims of the Project Does depth of orthography affect reading strategy and efficiency? Does it affect dyslexia? Is dyslexia a different disorder in different languages?
  8. 8. Depth of orthography Shallow orthography what you see is what you hear Speech sound is encoded Each letter maps to one sound You can pronounce previously unseen words Deep orthography what you see is what you know Each letter maps to many sounds You cannot pronounce previously unseen words Sound, origin, meaning of words is encoded
  9. 9. Shallow orthography The relationship of print-to-sound is transparent As in Italian Roma - Milano N.B. There is ambiguity at the supra-segmental level Word stress is not marked: fémore vs rumòre
  10. 10. Deep orthography Ambiguous print - sound mappings at both segmental and supra-segmental levels As in English Leicester - Norwich As in French Rhône - Saône
  11. 11. The ambigous print-to-sound mappings of English rough though you journal would out ourselves thought
  12. 12. Differences in reading strategy in shallow and deep orthographies Behavioural study reading words, non-words and control tasks Neuroimaging study brain activation pattern during reading explicit reading (reading aloud) implicit reading (exposure to print)
  13. 13. Behavioural study Participants 72 ordinary university students • 36 from London • (mean age 20.6 sd 3.3) • 36 from Milan • (mean age 20.8, sd=3.0), • Students were matched on course of study arts, science, engineering
  14. 14. Latencies for words and nonwords 55 0 English RED Italian GREEN * 50 0 * msec 45 0 * En gl i sh I t al i an 40 0 35 0 30 0 words cabin market cottage marmo ponte moto nonwords margo ponda moco nonwords cagin marnet connage * p <.001
  15. 15. Latencies for ‘International’ words 550 msec 500 English RED Italian GREEN * 450 Engl i s h I t al i an 400 350 300 Italian root taxi bravo pasta panda villa coma English root tennis boiler basket corner partner bitter * p <.001
  16. 16. Summary - Italian readers • Italian readers read faster • They are even faster reading non-words Taking advantage of unambiguous print-sound relationships at segmental level Strategy of letter-sound translation in segments ‘From small to big’
  17. 17. Summary - English readers • English readers read more slowly • Even more so when reading non-words - need to disambiguate print-sound mappings Strategy of looking up whole word/segment first more effortful and labour-intensive? ‘From big to small’
  18. 18. Reading strategy shaped by orthography shaped by language shaped by culture Are the different reading strategies visible in the brain?
  19. 19. Neuroimaging studies What happens in the brain when we see print? Explicit reading (words vs nothing) “read aloud” Implicit reading (words vs graphic patterns) “yes or no” to ascenders (b,t,l,h) cat: yes yes car: no no 12 Italian normal readers - university students 12 English normal readers - university students
  20. 20. Greater activation in English readers in ‘word naming area’
  21. 21. Greater activation in Italian readers in ‘Letter-sound decoding area’
  22. 22. The brain is affected by differences in orthography Extensive common activation of the same left hemisphere language network In addition In English skilled readers areas associated with word naming more activated In Italian skilled readers areas associated with letter sound decoding more activated
  23. 23. How do differences in orthography affect dyslexia? Different manifestations in different cultures What is stable? what is variable?
  24. 24. Dyslexia - the behavioural signs in English WORK BY MAGGIE SNOWLING A developmental disorder Pre-school children difficulties in learning spoken language repeating speech School children difficulties in learning written language phoneme awareness difficult Adults slow reading, poor speling, difficulties in speech processing tasks + difficulties in learning second language
  25. 25. Is dyslexia a different disorder in different cultures? Estimates of prevalence of dyslexia are often lower than in English speaking countries
  26. 26. European Project Part II Is dyslexia a different disorder in different languages? A comparison of Italian - French - English dyslexic readers
  27. 27. Problems of subject selection In Uk and France Adult volunteers previously diagnosed known difficulties in reading and writing acquisition slow reading and poor spelling impaired on phonological tasks In Italy No previous diagnosis Wide screening of students was necessary to select slowest readers and worst on phonological tasks
  28. 28. Similar participants Full WAIS - standardised in three countries all highly able students
  29. 29. WAIS subtests where English dyslexics show impaired performance Digit Span Arithmetic Digit Symbol All involve short term memory Excellent performance on all other subtests Also true for French and Italian dyslexics
  30. 30. Tests where English dyslexics are impaired Reaction time to name words, digits Word Span: Short Term Memory Spoonerisms [Hear] Basket Lemon [Say] Lasket Bemon Also true for French and Italian dyslexics
  31. 31. Similar stimuli across the three languages Words (frequent regular nouns) UK carrot river banana IT grano terra banana FR melon canard banane Nonwords (very wordlike) UK bonnel rixer barata IT bansio terba barata FR mebon carand barafe
  32. 32. Naming latencies 1400 1200 1000 800 Dyslexics Controls 600 400 200 0 UK IT Nonwords FR UK Words IT FR
  33. 33. Digit Naming 35 30 25 20 Dyslexics Controls 15 10 5 0 UK IT FR
  34. 34. Spoonerisms 250 200 150 Dyslexics Controls 100 50 0 UK IT FR
  35. 35. Word Span 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Dyslexics Controls UK IT Short UK Long IT
  36. 36. Italian dyslexics just as different from normally reading controls - as others even though not diagnosed Slow reading and impaired phonological tests are robust indicators For English, French and Italian dyslexics
  37. 37. Neuroimaging PET scans of explicit and implicit reading 12 dyslexics in each country 12 controls in each country Total = 72
  38. 38. normal Reduced activation in dyslexia dyslexic
  39. 39. What are the differences? comparing exposure to print vs baseline in normal and dyslexic readers In English, French, Italian All dyslexics showed reduced activation Italian, English and French
  40. 40. Are there subtle anatomical differences in the brains of dyslexics? (Giorgia Silani et al., 2005) Investigate whole brain voxel by voxel Look for relative decreases and increases in grey matter
  41. 41. Function Brain areas that are more active in normal readers than dyslexic readers Structure Yellow/red: decrease in grey matter Blue: increase in grey matter in dyslexics
  42. 42. Differences in white matter density The arcuate fasciculus connecting regions of the speech system Less dense white matter In dyslexics for all 3 language groups
  43. 43. Dyslexic FR high grey matter density French low fast reading speed slow Dyslexic IT grey matter density Dyslexic UK Italian grey matter density English reading speed reading speed Fig. 3 Relationship between grey matter increase and reading performance in dyslexic readers
  44. 44. What does this brain region do? • Part of the speech processing system • Active when things are named – Words, pictures, letters, colours, sounds… – Associated with rapid access to NAMES of things • Names? phonological representations – Heard sounds and programs for articulation
  45. 45. Nikolopoulos, Goulandris, Hulme and Snowling, 2006 • • • • Rare longitudinal study of Greek readers, age 7 -9 Speech rate best predictor of later reading Phoneme awareness predictor of later spelling Efficiency of speech output system (naming) is critical for dyslexia – In terms of behaviour – Fits with findings on brain anatomy
  46. 46. Taking dyslexia seriously • The underlying neurological problem persists as shown in brain imaging studies • Compensation has a cost • Is naming speed the final barrier? • Raising awareness of dyslexia
  47. 47. Dyslexia Biological Unity • universal neuro-cognitive basis – for reading (explicit and implicit) Cultural diversity • diverse behavioural effects – for reading accuracy and speed
  48. 48. Dyslexia less of a handicap when acquiring a shallow orthography But hidden cases Slow reading and speech processing difficulties Dyslexia’s problems are magnified when acquiring a deep orthography
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