Illiteracy: a cause for biased cognitive development

Alexandra Reis*, Alexandre Castro-Caldas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Citations (Scopus)


Learning to read and write generates new rules within the language processing systems. These new rules significantly change the manner in which some operations are performed. This finding was studied, by comparing the performance of literate and illiterate persons in several tasks. It was found that illiterate individuals (1) had difficulties in repeating pseudowords, (2) were worse at memorizing pairs of phonologically related words compared to pairs of semantically related words, and (3) were unable to generate words according to a formal criterion. Illiterate persons use strategies that are good for semantic processing, but inadequate for phonological analysis, while literate individuals are able to use several parallel running strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-450
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive development
  • Illiteracy
  • Language


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