Deviances in early event-related potential (ERP) components reflecting auditory and phonological processing are well-documented in children at familial risk for dyslexia. However, little is known about brain responses which index processing in other linguistic domains such as lexicon, semantics and syntax in this group. The present study investigated effects of lexical-semantic priming in 20- and 24-month-olds at-risk for dyslexia and typically developing controls in two ERP experiments. In both experiments an early component assumed to reflect facilitated lexical processing for primed words was enhanced in the at-risk group compared to the control group. Moreover, an N400-like response which was prominent in the control group was attenuated or absent in at-risk children. Results suggest that deficiencies in young children at-risk for dyslexia are not restricted to perceptual and lower-level phonological abilities, but also affect higher order linguistic skills such as lexical and semantic processing. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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