Electrophysiological correlates of perceptual prediction error are attenuated in dyslexia


A perceptual adaptation deficit often accompanies reading difficulty in dyslexia, manifesting in poor perceptual learning of consistent stimuli and reduced neurophysiological adaptation to stimulus repetition. However, it is not known how adaptation deficits relate to differences in feedforward or feedback processes in the brain. Here we used electroencephalography (EEG) to interrogate the feedforward and feedback contributions to neural adaptation as adults with and without dyslexia viewed pairs of faces and words in a paradigm that manipulated whether there was a high probability of stimulus repetition versus a high probability of stimulus change. We measured three neural dependent variables: expectation (the difference between prestimulus EEG power with and without the expectation of stimulus repetition), feedforward repetition (the difference between event-related potentials (ERPs) evoked by an expected change and an unexpected repetition), and feedback-mediated prediction error (the difference between ERPs evoked by an unexpected change and an expected repetition). Expectation significantly modulated prestimulus theta- and alpha-band EEG in both groups. Unexpected repetitions of words, but not faces, also led to significant feedforward repetition effects in the ERPs of both groups. However, neural prediction error when an unexpected change occurred instead of an expected repetition was significantly weaker in dyslexia than the control group for both faces and words. These results suggest that the neural and perceptual adaptation deficits observed in dyslexia reflect the failure to effectively integrate perceptual predictions with feedforward sensory processing. In addition to reducing perceptual efficiency, the attenuation of neural prediction error signals would also be deleterious to the wide range of perceptual and procedural learning abilities that are critical for developing accurate and fluent reading skills.