Specific neurophysiological markers and the use of serious gaming for diagnosing SLI and dyslexia

Researcher: Camila Martinez Rebolledo, former PhD student

Thesis defense: December 10, 2020

First promotor: Prof. Ben Maassen, PhD

Funding: Conicyt

Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) have an increased risk of developing reading difficulties. However, the DLD group is a heterogeneous group and individual children with DLD may be present with different challenges depending on particular weaknesses. This dissertation explores the effect of comprehension difficulties on reading development in children with DLD. By using different approaches, the dissertation studies the language and reading difficulties from a behavioural perspective by testing reading and general language skills, as well as from a neurophysiological point of view, by using event-related potential recordings. Moreover, the dissertation explores the possibility to use serious video-gaming as an intervention, as well as an early diagnostic tool. The results suggest that rapid automatized naming is a suitable predictor of reading skills in second grade. Additionally, the data suggest that brain responses in kindergarten and first grade are indicators of reading skills in second grade. Finally, the results suggest that GraphoGame, a serious-videogame designed to train phonological awareness and letter-sound association, may be beneficial for training early reading skills. Also, in-game data and game progress correlate with reading fluency in second grade, which suggests that GraphoGame can be used to not only support but also diagnose, at an early stage, children who become struggling readers later on. The results add to the field of reading and special educational needs, as well as suggest possible approaches to investigate reading training and diagnosis in children, from a distance.

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