Brain activity of regular and dyslexic readers while reading
Hebrew as compared to English sentences
ZVIA BREZNITZ, REVITAL OREN and SHELLEY SHAUL
Laboratory for Neurocognitive Research, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa,
Abstract. The aim of the present study was to examine diﬀerences among ‘regular’
and dyslexic adult bilingual readers when processing reading and reading related skills
in their ﬁrst (L1 Hebrew) and second (L2 English) languages. Brain activity during
reading Hebrew and English unexpected sentence endings was also studied. Behav-
ioral and electrophysiological measures including event-related potentials (ERP) and
low resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) methodology were employed.
Results indicated discrepancies in the processing proﬁles of dyslexic and regular bilin-
gual readers in both ﬁrst and second languages. In general, the amplitudes of the
evoked potentials were higher and the latencies longer among dyslexic readers during
processing of information in ﬁrst and second languages (L1 and L2), but were more
pronounced in English (L2). LORETA analysis indicated evidence that the source of
brain activity measured by current density of brain activation is diﬀerent when read-
ing Hebrew as compared to English sentences mainly among dyslexics and not among
regular readers. The data from the present study supports the ‘dominanat bilingual’
hypothesis for deﬁning bilinguals. A discrepancy between achievement in performing
various L1 and L2 tasks was consistent across groups. Both groups were better in
there mother tongue, which was Hebrew as compared to English.
Key words: Dyslexia, ERP, LORETA, Second language
It is widely accepted that poor readers with relative weakness in their
ﬁrst language (L1) are prone to similar diﬃculties in their second lan-
guage (L2). In other words, second language reading disabilities do not
exist in isolation; rather they occur concomitantly with native language
reading diﬃculties (Ganschow, Sparks, Javorsky, Pohlman, & Bishop-
Marbury, 1991). Cummins (1979) proposed the Linguistic Interdepen-
dence Hypothesis, which claims that cognitive academic language proﬁ-
ciency is transferred from one language to another. According to this
hypothesis, there is a signiﬁcant relationship between skills in the two
Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 17: 707–737, 2004.
Ó 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.