Syntactic ambiguity resolution in dyslexia: An examination of cognitive factors underlying eye movement differences and comprehension failures

Marianna Stella, Paul Engelhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


This study examined eye movements and comprehension of temporary syntactic ambiguities in individuals with dyslexia, as few studies have focused on sentence-level comprehension in dyslexia. We tested 50 participants with dyslexia and 50 typically-developing controls, in order to investigate (1) whether dyslexics have difficulty revising temporary syntactic misinterpretations and (2) underlying cognitive factors (i.e. working memory and processing speed) associated with eye movement differences and comprehension failures. In the sentence comprehension task, participants read subordinate-main structures that were either ambiguous or unambiguous, and we also manipulated the type of verb contained in the subordinate clause (i.e. reflexive or optionally transitive). Results showed a main effect of group on comprehension, in which individuals with dyslexia showed poorer comprehension than typically-developing readers. In addition, participants with dyslexia showed longer total reading times on the disambiguating region of syntactically ambiguous sentences. With respect to cognitive factors, working memory was more associated with group differences than was processing speed. Conclusions focus on sentence-level syntactic processing issues in dyslexia (a previously under-researched area) and the relationship between online and offline measures of syntactic ambiguity resolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-141
Number of pages27
Issue number2
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • dyslexia
  • reading disability
  • eye movements
  • sentence processing
  • syntactic ambiguity

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