Meta-analytic findings reveal lower means but higher variances in visuo-spatial ability in dyslexia

Chamberlain, Rebecca; Brunswick, Nicola; Siev, Joseph and McManus, I. C.. 2018. Meta-analytic findings reveal lower means but higher variances in visuo-spatial ability in dyslexia. British Journal of Psychology, 109(4), pp. 897-916. ISSN 0007-1269 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Conflicting empirical and theoretical accounts suggest that dyslexia is associated with either average, enhanced, or impoverished high level visuo-spatial processing relative to controls. Such heterogeneous results could be due to the presence of wider variability in dyslexic samples, which is unlikely to be identified at the single study level, due to lack of power. To address this, the current study reports a meta-analysis of means and variances in high-level visuo-spatial ability in 909 non-dyslexic and 956 dyslexic individuals. The findings suggest that dyslexia is associated not only with a lower mean performance on visuo-spatial tasks, but also with greater variability in performance. Through novel meta analytic techniques, we demonstrate a negative effect size for mean differences (-.457), but a positive effect size for SD differences (+.118; SD ratio = 1.107). In doing so, this is the first study to demonstrate impoverished visuospatial processing of the majority of individuals with dyslexia in addition to greater variance in performance in this group. The findings advocate for further consideration of both the presence of, and reasons for, increased variance in perception, attention and memory across neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Identification Number (DOI):


Dyslexia, Meta‐analysis of variance, Visuospatial ability

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4 June 2018Accepted
25 June 2018Published Online
November 2018Published

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Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2018 15:41

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 23:25

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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