Does unexpectedly poor spelling in adults result from inferior visual sequential memory? In one experiment, unexpectedly poor spellers performed significantly worse than better spellers in the immediate reproduction of sequences of visual symbols, but in a second experiment, the effect was not replicated. Poor spellers were also no worse at the immediate recognition of symbol sequences. Overall, the results indicate that inferior visual memory is not characteristic of unexpectedly poor spellers. However, they do have less efficient orthographic processing skill: they were significantly slower and more error prone than better spellers at classifying both regularly and strangely spelt words, as well as at detecting letter transpositions in long words. They can thus be considered as subtly worse word readers than better spellers. While the findings question the notion of unexpectedly poor spelling in relation to normal adults, they provide confirmation of the intimate relationship between reading and spelling processes.
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