Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Gail Ramsberger

Second Advisor

Kathryn Hardin

Third Advisor

Pui Fong Kan

Abstract

Pure alexia is an acquired reading disorder, in the absence of a more pervasive language disorder. People with pure alexia are unable to read whole words and therefore employ a strategy of reading each word one letter at a time. Treatments for pure alexia attempt to improve the patient's reading ability by 1) training letter-by-letter reading skills or 2) training the patient to recognize whole words. The current study attempted to assess the efficacy of a treatment that trained explicit whole-word recognition of the 20 most frequently used words in written English. The participant, EF, had severe pure alexia and used a letter-by-letter reading only treatment phases, and a post-treatment assessment phase. During treatment, the 20 target words were repeatedly presented to the participant for less than one second in duration, using an Android tablet. Treatment efficacy was determined by how well the participant learned the trained words and how much this learning influenced functional reading ability. Results of the study indicated that there was no significant change in EF's ability to read the trained high-frequency words. Likewise, no improvement was seen in his general reading ability. Possible reasons that no improvement was shown include clinician error and flaws in the design of the study. Another possibility is that the participant, EF, was not the most suitable candidate for the treatment. More research of treatments for moderate to severe pure alexia is needed.

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