Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Jim Magnuson, Dave Braze, Gerry Altmann, Whit Tabor

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


The link between phonological abilities and reading skills has been well-established in both typical and atypical language development. However, the nature of the phonological deficits in poor readers remains a debated topic. While poor readers have been mostly assumed to have underspecified or “fuzzy” phonological representations (Tallal et al., 1998), the opposite alternative, over-specified phonological representations, has also been hypothesized (Serniclaes, 2006). To examine the two phonological hypotheses, the current study used the eye-tracking paradigm in the study of Dahan et al. (2001) to investigate individuals’ sensitivity to subphonemic information in young adults with a wide range of reading abilities. Our findings suggested a trend of higher sensitivity to subphonemic information in lower-ability readers, consistent with the over-specification hypothesis. In addition, our sample with a lower range of socio-economic status highlighted the need to take environmental factors into consideration for theoretical and practical purposes in reading acquisition.

Major Advisor

Jim Magnuson