Download: pdf (125 pages, 7.1 Mb)
Abstract: Deep dyslexia is an acquired reading disorder marked by the occurrence of semantic errors (e.g., reading RIVER as ``ocean''). In addition, patients exhibit a number of other symptoms, including visual and morphological effects in their errors, a part-of-speech effect, and an advantage for concrete over abstract words. Deep dyslexia poses a distinct challenge for cognitive neuropsychology because there is little understanding of why such a variety of symptoms should co-occur in virtually all known patients. Hinton and Shallice (1991, Psychological Review) replicated the co-occurrence of visual and semantic errors by lesioning a recurrent connectionist network trained to map from orthography to semantics. While the success of their simulations is encouraging, there is little understanding of what underlying principles are responsible for them. In this paper we evaluate and, where possible, improve on the most important design decisions made by Hinton and Shallice, relating to the task, the network architecture, the training procedure, and the testing procedure. We identify four properties of networks that underly their ability to reproduce the deep dyslexic symptom-complex: distributed orthographic and semantic representations, gradient descent learning, attractors for word meanings, and greater richness of concrete vs. abstract semantics. The first three of these are general connectionist principles and the last is based on earlier theorizing. Taken together, the results demonstrate the usefulness of a connectionist approach to understanding deep dyslexia in particular, and the viability of connectionist neuropsychology in general.
Copyright Notice: The documents distributed here have been provided as a means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work on a noncommercial basis. Copyright and all rights therein are maintained by the authors or by other copyright holders, notwithstanding that they have offered their works here electronically. It is understood that all persons copying this information will adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. These works may not be reposted without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.