The ability to retrieve words is a
fundamental part of human communication. Infants, as young as nine months,
recognize that a name refers to a category of objects and actively use names to
indicate objects. Word finding occurs when one retrieves known words from the
mental lexicon in order to represent or express one’s intentions.
Accessing the lexicon requires gathering and grouping sounds to create a word
form and access meanings that match it (Cuadro, n. d.).
Difficulty in accessing one’s lexicon mimics
tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) experiences. During this statethe individual may sense
imminent word recall may report partial information about the target word (Cuadro, n.
d.). When word retrieval is more than
the occasional “tip of the tongue” moment, this results in problems generating words to express one’s
thoughts defined as word retrieval difficulties (Center for Speech and Language
Pathology, n.d.). Characteristics displayed in word finding deficits include
use of gestures, time fillers, circumlocutions and substitutions that may be
similar to the target word in regards to sound structure or word class (Center
for Speech and Language Pathology, n.d.).
Individuals with word-finding
difficulties tend to produce errors as a result of deficit within the stages of
lexical retrieval. The process of lexical retrieval can be illustrated through
figure 1. The first stage is the
formation of a conceptual representation in the conceptual system which
contains what the person knows about a concept such as its function, semantic
properties and visual images.This non-lexical concept activates a
lexical-semantic representation in the semantic lexicon. The semantic
lexiconcontains words and information about the meaning of words such as the
colour, function and semantic category regarding the target word. The selected semantic entry activates
thephonological representation in the phonological
output lexicon which contain information about the spoken form of the word such
as its phoneme structure and number of syllables. The representation is
transferred to theshort term phonological output buffer which holds the representation until the word is
produced (Friedmann, Biran & Dotan, 2013).
Figure 1. Process of
lexical retrieval (Friedmann,
Biran & Dotan, 2013).
a consequence, deficits in any stages results in semantic and phonological
errors. A deficit in the semantic lexicon involve semantically related word
errors which affects both the comprehension and the production of spoken and
These errors are characterised by substitutions of semantically related words
or circumlocutions (Gvion & Friedmann, 2016). On the other hand, a deficit
in the phonological output lexicon involves phonological and semantic errors
which affects the production of words (Gvion & Friedmann, 2016). A deficit
in the phonological output buffer involves phonological errors in word
production. As this stage occurs after the semantic stages no semantic errors
difficulties have been identified among children with language and learning
disabilities such as dyslexia (The New Jersey Dyslexia Handbook, 2017; German
& Newman, 2004). The lexical retrieval process occurs within the process
for reading. This is illustrated in figure 2 where the stages between the
conceptual system and the phonological output buffer in the lexical routealso
occurs in figure 1. Retrospective studies have reported that dyslexic readers
have more difficulty recalling the names of pictures in a picture naming task
compared to normal readers (Denkla & Rudel, 1976; Katz, 1986; Wolf &
Goodglass, 1986). The picture naming
task has been used to study the difficulties dyslexic readers experience
retrieving words from long-term memory (Hanly, 2008). Additionally, dyslexic children report more TOT experiences
and make more phonological errorsthan control children on picture naming(Hanly, 2008; Hanly
& Vandenberg, 2009). Faust, Dimitrovsky and Shacht(2003) and Faust and
Sharfstein-Friedman(2003) report similar findings in adolescents and children
with dyslexia above 8 years of age. However the reading achievement gap between
dyslexic readers and typical readers is evident as early as first grade and
naming performance in kindergarten is a predictor of later reading ability
(Ferrer, Shaywitz, Holahan, Marchione, Michaels & Shaywitz, 2015; Jansky
and de Hirsch, 1972; as cited in McCrory, Mechelli, Frith & Price, 2004;
Wolf & Goodglass, 1986). Additionally, early impairments in word retrieval
and reading can persist into adulthood (McCrory, Mechelli, Frith & Price,
2004). Thus this study will address the gap by looking at word retrieval in
children with surface dyslexia from kindergarten to second grade.
Figure 2. Dual route
model for reading (Gvion& Friedmann, 2016
study aims to look at whether semantic or phonological cues specific to the
participant’s type of impairment will benefit and improve naming performance.
It is hypothesised that the children with surface dyslexia will be less
accurate in naming pictures of known objects, have fewer correct responses and
more TOT responses than the normally achieving
control readers. It is also hypothesised that the dyslexic participants will
improve their performance after receiving appropriate cues.
methodology will have a qualitative design with 18 children with surface
dyslexia and 18 control children between 5-7 years of age. The children with
surface dyslexia will have individual impairments in either the semantic
lexicon, phonological output lexicon or phonological output buffer. The
participants will be introduced to a stuffed animal named Peppa and told that it
needs help with saying the names of objects. The participants will be given a
set of 20 pictures and they will be required to tell Peppa the name of the
object pictured. The stimuli in the task will be words that will be familiar
for typically developing kindergarten to second graders and this will be judged
in a pretest. If they know the name they should say it as quickly as possible.
If they can not say the object’s name they will be asked to report whatever
comes to mind about the target word. Responses such as circumlocutions will be
recorded as TOT responses. They will then be given partial information, either
a semantic or phonological cue, depending on their previous response when asked
to report whatever comes to mind about the target. If a phonological cue is
given, the participant will be shown cards with three phonemes in a random order
as well as read to the participant by the experimenter. The participant will
have to indicate the initial phoneme of the target word by pointing to the
appropriate letter and try to retrieve the target word. If a semantic cue is
given, the participant will be provided with the attributes if the target. In
addition to the picture naming task, the participants will participate in a
semantic and phonological fluency task. In the semantic fluency task, the
participants will need to say the names of animals and food items in one minute
to Peppa. Similarly, in the phonological fluency task, they will need to say
words that begin with the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ in the same time period to Peppa.
The independent variables will be the phonemic and semantic cues provided in
the naming task. The dependent variable that will be measured are speed and
accuracy in responses and responsiveness to phonemic and semantic cueing.
oral communication interaction,
reading and writing require efficient word retrieval from the mental lexicon
(Welgreen, 2008). In turn word finding difficulties delay and lower the quality
of oral communication and hamper the acquisition of reading and writing skills (Swieca, 2014; Welgreen, 2008).
Moreover it has been found to have a negative effect on a person’s academic
achievement, social communication, fluency and self esteem (Swieca, 2014). Thus
targeting children earlier or at the start of their schooling will have a
positive impact throughout their later schooling and in other areas of
communication. This can also be adopted for non-dyslexics who display similar
behaviours during word retrieval such as individuals with memory impairments,
anomia and who have difficulty with basic reading.