A neural index of inefficient evidence accumulation in dyslexia underlying slow perceptual decision making

Nicole R. Stefanac, Shou Han Zhou, Megan M. Spencer-Smith, Redmond O'Connell, Mark A. Bellgrove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Visual processing deficits have been widely reported in developmental dyslexia however the locus of cognitive dysfunction remains unclear. Here, we examined the neural correlates of perceptual decision-making using a dot-motion task and electroencephalography (EEG) and investigated whether presenting deficits were unique to children with dyslexia or if they were also evident in other, typically developing children with equally immature reading systems. Sixty-eight children participated: 32 with dyslexia (DD; 16 females); 21 age-matched controls (AM; 11 females) and 15 reading-matched controls (RM; 9 females). All participants completed a bilaterally presented random-dot-motion task while EEG was recorded. Neural signatures of low level sensory processing (steady state visual evoked potentials; SSVEPs), pre-target attentional bias (posterior α power), attentional orienting (N2), evidence accumulation (centro-parietal positive decision signal; CPP) and execution of a motor response (β) were obtained to dissect the temporal sequence of perceptual decision-making. Reading profile provided a score of relative lexical and sublexical skills for each participant. Although all groups performed comparably in terms of task accuracy and false alarm rate, the DD group were slower and demonstrated an earlier peak latency, reduced slope and lower amplitude of the CPP compared with both AM and RM controls. Reading profile was found to moderate the relationship between word reading ability, reaction time as well as CPP indices showing that lexical dyslexics responded more slowly and had a shallower slope, reduced amplitude and earlier latency of CPP waveforms than sublexical dyslexics. These findings suggest that children with dyslexia, particularly those with relatively poorer lexical abilities, have a reduced rate and peak of evidence accumulation as denoted by CPP markers yet remain slow in their overt response. This is in keeping with hypotheses that children with dyslexia have impairment in effectively sampling and processing evidence about visual motion stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-137
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Attention
  • Decision making
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Evidence accumulation
  • Neurodevelopment

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