Children Learn to Read: How Visual Analysis and Mental Imagery Contribute to the Reading Performances at Different Stages of Reading Acquisition

  • Elena CommodariEmail author
  • Maria Guarnera
  • Andrea Di Stefano
  • Santo Di Nuovo


Reading in alphabetic orthography requires analysis and recognition of specific attributes of visual stimuli, and generation, reactivation, and use of mental images of letters and words. This study evaluated the role of visual analysis and mental imagery in reading performances of students at different stages of reading acquisition. Reading “comprehension,” “accuracy,” and “speed,” were analyzed. Participants were 90 children who attended primary school. Children were assessed in the first and third grade. The results highlighted that mental imagery and visual analysis influenced reading acquisition. These abilities are differently involved in the three dimensions of reading skill. The issues of this study have practical and educational applications. The early assessment of visual analysis and mental imagery skills and specific training on these abilities could contribute to facilitate reading acquisition. Strategies of intervention centered on visual imagery could increase reading performances in typically developing children and children at risk of learning difficulties.


Reading Visual analysis Mental imagery Primary school 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational SciencesUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of Human and Social SciencesKore University of EnnaEnnaItaly
  3. 3.University of CataniaCataniaItaly

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