Workpackage 2. Identifying Risk Factors for Failure in Literacy Development in European Languages

Co-ordinator : M. Snowling

Senior researchers: Caravolas/Kucharská, Mikulajová, Snowling

Research Fellows -- ESR: Z. Jagerčiková, H. Franke

Participants: Bangor University/CharlesUniversity, Comenius University, University of York







Background and Rationale. One of the main aims of developmental cognitive neuroscience is to trace causal pathways from brain through cognition to behaviour and to patterns of social adaptation that affect the individual in their everyday lives. Despite the recent advances in the neuroscientific understanding of reading in English, an obstacle to progress is the lack of a clear specification at the cognitive level of the different forms of literacy impairment (phenotypes) that exist in different languages and of their developmental trajectories (1) . Moreover, there is lack of agreement regarding the relationship between two of the most highly researched developmental disorders of language: specific language impairment (SLI) and ‘dyslexia’. Although it has been proposed that these disorders fall on a severity continuum, at present there is not much evidence of etiological overlap, and relatively little is known about how environmental factors (including interventions) may shape the developmental pathways followed by children with these disorders. While there are a number of influential theories regarding the causes of each disorder, few of these theories have been put to the test in longitudinal studies.

Main goals of the project

  • to clarify the developmental relationships between oral and written language difficulties
  • to investigate their cognitive bases and environmental correlates
  • to use improved knowledge of behavioural phenotypes to design and evaluate theoretically motivated programmes of intervention.


(1.) Fisher, S. E., & Francks, C. (2006). Genes, cognition and dyslexia: learning to read the genome. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 250-257.