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MT Kulp, MJ Earley; Can Visual Attention and Eye Movements Foretell Reading Ability in Second through Sixth Graders? . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):4665.
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Purpose: A considerable body of literature has shown a significant relation between dyslexia and magnocellular and phonological deficits. Because magnocellular deficits would be expected to impair visual sequential processing, the purpose of this study was to determine the relation between various aspects of reading ability and visual sequential processing. Methods: Children in 2nd through 6th grade (n=171, mean age =10.08) from an elementary school near Columbus, Ohio were included in this masked investigation. Tests of visual sequential processing included visual sequential attention (a visual search task) and visual sequential memory. Eye movements were evaluated with the Developmental Eye Movement Test (DEM). Phonological ability was measured with the Phonological Awareness Skills Program (PASP) test. Reading decoding was evaluated with the Woodcock Word Attack and the Castles’ tests. The California Achievement Test-5 (CAT) and the Test of Cognitive Skills-2 were administered by the school and provided measures of reading achievement and verbal ability. Results: Regressions controlling for age and verbal ability revealed that performance on the PASP was significantly related to all measures of reading ability (CAT total reading, CAT reading comprehension, Word Attack, and Castles’ regular, irregular, and nonsense word reading (p<0.001 for each)). Eye movement test performance was significantly related to CAT total reading (ratio: p=0.021; errors: p = 0.010), CAT reading comprehension (ratio: p=0.004; errors: p = 0.077), and Castles’ irregular (ratio: p=0.001; errors: p = 0.003) and nonsense word reading (ratio: p=0.035; errors: p = 0.037). Performance on the test of visual sequential attention was significantly related to CAT total reading (p=0.026), CAT reading comprehension (p = 0.039), Word Attack (p=0.046) and Castles’ regular (p=0.025) and nonsense (p=0.007) word reading, and showed a trend toward significance for Castle’s irregular word reading (p=0.088). When phonological, visual attention, visual sequential memory and eye movement test performances were all added into regression models controlling for age and verbal ability, it was found that 1) phonological and eye movement test scores were significantly foretelling of California Achievement Test reading scores and irregular word decoding and 2) phonological and visual sequential attention scores were significantly foretelling of nonsense and regular word decoding ability. Conclusion: Reading ability is significantly related to phonological awareness, eye movement ability and visual sequential attention.
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