Hong Kong students diagnosed with childhood dyslexia: What is and is not compensated?

Project: Research project

Project Details


About 10% of the school population suffers from dyslexia, a major stressor on children’s personal, emotional and social development. Research has revealed a number of problems associated with dyslexia in children, but little follow up into adolescence has been done on this disability. However, we do know that around 20% of the dyslexic population with diagnosed childhood dyslexia will compensate in adolescence to the point that their reading is well within the normal range, at least in alphabetic languages. The proposed project will examine the cognitive and neurophysiological levels of linguistic sensitivity in a group of Hong Kong Chinese-speaking compensated and uncompensated dyslexic adolescents. The aims are fourfold: (a) to examine which language-related cognitive tasks are the best for distinguishing compensated and uncompensated dyslexic adolescents from normal readers, (b) to investigate the extent to which compensated dyslexics have overcome deficiencies in reading and language-related cognitive processes and what residual difficulties still remain, (c) to examine to what extent compensated and uncompensated dyslexics exhibit cognitive profiles that are similar or different from their childhood profiles and (d) to use electrophysiological measures to investigate various cognitive aspects of linguistic processes that underlie both groups. This project will adopt a multi-dimensional approach that considers reading problems as a manifestation of a complex disorder involving multiple dimensions of cognitive and neurological processing. In phase 1, various cognitive measures associated with reading difficulty will be tested to obtain clear cognitive profiles of all participants. A total of 160 Hong Kong secondary school students will be recruited in four groups: 40 uncompensated dyslexics (UD), 40 compensated dyslexics (CD), 40 chronological age matched (CA) and 40 reading-level-matched (RL). In Phase II, the 160 students from Phase I (40 per group) will participate in different experiments involving linguistic stimuli and ERP in order to test the extent to which compensated and uncompensated Chinese adolescent dyslexics show different pre-attentive processes in response to verbal stimuli. The findings of this project will have significant theoretical and educational implications. Practically, understanding compensation can provide important information about variability in adolescent literacy development. Theoretically, the results will enhance our understanding of the characteristics of both dyslexic groups in the Chinese-speaking population. Furthermore, the project will offer an insight into the pathophysiology that may yield information on the neurobiological markers related to the causes of Chinese developmental dyslexia.

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/01/1230/06/15


  • education
  • psychology
  • ERPs


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