Atypical reliance on monocular visual pathway for face and word recognition in developmental dyslexia

Noa Peskin, Marlene Behrmann, Shai Gabay, Yafit Gabay

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Studies with individuals with developmental dyslexia (DD) have documented impaired perception of words and faces, both of which are domains of visual expertise for human adults. In this study, we examined a possible mechanism that might be associated with the impaired acquisition of visual expertise for words and faces in DD, namely, the atypical engagement of the monocular visual pathway. Participants with DD and typical readers (TR) judged whether a pair of sequentially presented unfamiliar faces or nonwords were the same or different, and the pair of stimuli were displayed in an eye-specific fashion using a stereoscope. Based on evidence of greater reliance on subcortical structures early in development, we predicted differences between the groups in the engagement of lower (monocular) versus higher (binocular) regions of the visual pathways. Whereas the TR group showed a monocular advantage for both stimulus types, the DD participants evinced a monocular advantage for faces and words that was much greater than that measured in the TRs. These findings indicate that the DD individuals have enhanced subcortical engagement and that this might arise from the failure to fine-tune cortical correlates mediating the discrimination of homogeneous exemplars in domains of expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106106
JournalBrain and Cognition
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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  • Cortical-subcortical regions
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Face and word processing
  • Monocular channels
  • Perceptual recognition


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