Evidence for Deficits in the Temporal Attention Span of Poor Readers

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6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
While poor reading is often associated with phonological deficits, many studies suggest that visual processing might also be impaired. In particular, recent research has indicated that poor readers show impaired spatial visual attention spans in partial and whole report tasks. Given the similarities between competition-based accounts for reduced visual attention span and similar explanations for impairments in sequential object processing, the present work examined whether poor readers show deficits in their “temporal attention span” – that is, their ability to rapidly and accurately process sequences of consecutive target items.

Methodology/Principal Findings
Poor and normal readers monitored a sequential stream of visual items for two (TT condition) or three (TTT condition) consecutive target digits. Target identification was examined using both unconditional and conditional measures of accuracy in order to gauge the overall likelihood of identifying a target and the likelihood of identifying a target given successful identification of previous items. Compared to normal readers, poor readers showed small but consistent deficits in identification across targets whether unconditional or conditional accuracy was used. Additionally, in the TTT condition, final-target conditional accuracy was poorer than unconditional accuracy, particularly for poor readers, suggesting a substantial cost arising from processing the previous two targets that was not present in normal readers.

Conclusions/Significance
Mirroring the differences found between poor and normal readers in spatial visual attention span, the present findings suggest two principal differences between the temporal attention spans of poor and normal readers. First, the consistent pattern of reduced performance across targets suggests increased competition amongst items within the same span for poor readers. Second, the steeper decline in final target performance amongst poor readers in the TTT condition suggests a reduction in the extent of their temporal attention span.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e91278
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014

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