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Poster A9, Thursday, August 16, 10:15 am – 12:00 pm, Room 2000AB

What can we learn about reading from a lollipop? Exploring the role of sensorimotor feedback on the speed of reading in adults and children

Jacqueline Cummine1, Angela Cullum1, Daniel Aalto1,2, Cassidy Fleming1, Alesha Reed1, Amber Ostevik1, William Hodgetts1,2;1Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, 2Institute for Reconstructive Science in Medicine

There is compelling evidence to indicate that reading is closely tied to speech production (i.e. the universal print-to-speech network). In this model, skilled and accurate reading relies on feedforward (i.e., motor representations) and feedback (i.e., auditory and somatosensory) processes. While the impact of altered auditory feedback has been studied extensively, little is known about the effects of somatosensory feedback on reading performance. Here we altered somatosensory feedback, via a large lollipop in the mouth, in three tasks that varied in the reliance on the feedback system: 1) a picture categorization (PIC task: no feedback needed: press ‘1’ if the stimulus is an animal; press ‘2’ if it is not an animal), 2) an orthographic lexical decision task (OLDT: minimal feedback needed: press ‘1’ if the letter string spells a real word; press ‘2’ if it does not spell a real word) and 3) a phonological lexical decision task (PLDT: feedback necessary: press ‘1’ if the letter string sounds like a real word; press ‘2’ if it does not sound like a real word). Participants (Adults N = 61; Children N = 24) completed each of the three decision tasks two times: once with a lollipop in their mouth and once without a lollipop. Four types of stimuli were used in each of the OLDT and PLDT reading tasks: regular words (e.g., brain), exception words (e.g., pint), nonwords (e.g., bint), and pseudohomophones (e.g., brane). A series of paired samples t-tests was used to test the impact of altered somatosensory feedback on response times (i.e., the button press), for each word type, in each of the tasks. Results showed that the presence/absence of the lollipop did not impact response times in the picture categorization task for either adults or children. However, pseudohomophones were identified faster in the OLDT for adults (34ms) and children (164ms), with the lollipop compared to no lollipop. In contrast, during the PLDT, regular words were identified slower for adults (44ms), but faster for children (164ms), with the lollipop as compared to no lollipop. The presence/absence of the lollipop had little, to no effect, on response times for exception words and nonwords in either task, for both adults and children. The implications of these results and the role of somatosensory feedback to the reading process will be discussed.

Topic Area: Speech Motor Control and Sensorimotor Integration