Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 16: 737–758, 2003.
© 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Phonological, visual and temporal processing in adults with and
without reading disability
JERRI D. EDWARDS, AMANDA C. WALLEY and KARLENE K. BALL
Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
Abstract. The primary goal of this study was to compare three theoretical accounts of reading
disability (RD) by simultaneously studying phonological, visual, and temporal processing
skills. Adults with and without RD were compared on measures of phonological processing
with the Auditory Analysis Test (AAT) and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test (WRMT-R)
Word Attack subtest. Visual processing was assessed with the Useful Field of View test
) and the Frequency Doubling Technology Perimeter (FDT). The Repetition Test was
used to evaluate temporal processing skills. Adults with RD evidenced poorer phonological
and temporal processing skills than did adults without RD, but no signiﬁcant differences
between the groups were found in visual processing. Future research is needed to clarify the
relations among phonological, visual, and temporal skills and the roles they play in RD. The
trajectory and co-existence of deﬁcits throughout development, as well as how speciﬁcally
such impairments affect reading, warrant further investigation.
Key words: Adults, Reading disability, Phonological, Temporary, Visual
Abbreviations: AAT – Auditory Analysis Test; FDT – Frequency Doubling Technology
perimeter; RD – reading disability; STM – short term memory; UFOV
– Useful Field of
View test; WMS-III – Wechsler Memory Scale III; WASI – Wechsler Abbreviated Scales of
Intelligence; WRMT-R – Woodcock Reading Mastery Test–Revised
Reading disability (RD), or dyslexia, refers to unusual difﬁculty reading
despite adequate educational opportunity. Individuals with RD comprise an
estimated 50 to 80% of the illiterate adult population (U.S. Employment &
Training Administration, 1991). It is important to better understand the nature
of this disability so that more effective methods of diagnosing, remediating,
and even preventing it can be developed.
Several theories of the etiology of RD have been proposed. The present
paper is an examination of three views: phonological processing deﬁcit
theory (Bradley & Bryant, 1978), magnocellular visual processing deﬁcit
theory (Stein & Walsh, 1997), and general temporal processing deﬁcit theory
(Tallal, 1984). Phonological, visual, and temporal processing skills in college
students with and without RD were compared.