Developmental dyslexia: The difficulties of interpreting poor performance, and the importance of normal performance

Franck Ramus*, Merav Ahissar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


This paper provides a selective review of data on phonology, audition, vision, and learning abilities in developmental dyslexia, with a specific focus on patterns of normal alongside poor performance. Indeed we highlight the difficulties of interpreting poor performance, and we criticize theories of dyslexia that are exclusively suited to explaining poor performance, at the risk of overgeneralizing and predicting deficits in many more situations than are observed. We highlight a number of tasks and conditions where individuals with dyslexia seem to show perfectly normal performance, and we discuss the value of taking such data seriously into account and the difficulties of current theories to explain them. Finally, we discuss the experimental challenges for tasks investigating the nature of cognitive deficits in dyslexia and in other developmental disorders and the challenges for any proper theory of dyslexia aiming to explain cases of normal as well as poor performance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)104-122
Number of pages19
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Franck Ramus, LSCP, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, France. (E-mail: F.R. is funded by Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Genedys), the European Commission (Neurodys), and the Fyssen Foundation. M.A. is funded by the Israeli Science Foundation.


  • Anchoring
  • Cognitive development
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Phonology
  • Sensory processing


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