Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We report three experiments investigating the specificity and nature of paired associate learning (PAL) deficits in children with dyslexia. Experiments 1 and 2 compared children with dyslexia and age-matched controls across the following stimulus-response mapping conditions, designed to dissociate crossmodal and verbal demands: visual-verbal, verbal-verbal, visual-visual, and verbal-visual. Children with dyslexia exhibited deficits in visual-verbal and verbal-verbal PAL only. Experiment 3 investigated the stage of learning in which PAL deficits arise by separating the verbal learning and associative learning components of a visual-verbal PAL task. Results revealed an item-specific relationship between phonological form learning and later associative learning success. Visual-verbal PAL deficits were fully accounted for by the preceding deficit in phonological form learning. Together, our results show that PAL deficits in dyslexia are not a consequence of difficulties with associative learning; instead, they are best characterized as deficits in phonological form learning. The implications of these findings for theories of reading development and dyslexia are discussed. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Memory and Language

Publication Date





71 - 88