Individual Differences in Contextual Facilitation: Evidence from Dyslexia and Poor Reading Comprehension



Ninety-two 7- to 10-year-old children read words presented in isolation or following a spoken sentence context. In absolute terms, poor readers showed more contextual facilitation than good readers. However, when the relative benefit of context was assessed, this was greater for children with better reading skills, and comprehension was a better predictor of contextual facilitation than decoding. Study 2 compared the performance of dyslexics with that of reading-age matched poor comprehenders and normal readers. The dyslexics showed greater contextual facilitation than the normal readers who, in turn, showed more priming than poor comprehenders. The results show that dyslexic children use context to compensate for poor decoding skills, whereas children with poor reading comprehension skills fail to benefit from context as much as normal readers.