Document Type


Publication Date



The temporo-occipitally distributed N170 ERP component is hypothesized to reflect print-tuning in skilled readers. This study investigated whether skilled deaf and hearing readers (matched on reading ability, but not phonological awareness) exhibit similar N170 patterns, given their distinct experiences learning to read. Thirty-two deaf and 32 hearing adults viewed words and symbol strings in a familiarity judgment task. In the N170 epoch (120–240 ms) hearing readers produced greater negativity for words than symbols at left hemisphere (LH) temporo-parietal and occipital sites, while deaf readers only showed this asymmetry at occipital sites. Linear mixed effects regression was used to examine the influence of continuous measures of reading, spelling, and phonological skills on the N170 (120–240 ms). For deaf readers, better reading ability was associated with a larger N170 over the right hemisphere (RH), but for hearing readers better reading ability was associated with a smaller RH N170. Better spelling ability was related to larger occipital N170s in deaf readers, but this relationship was weak in hearing readers. Better phonological awareness was associated with smaller N170s in the LH for hearing readers, but this association was weaker and in the RH for deaf readers. The results support the phonological mapping hypothesis for a left-lateralized temporo-parietal N170 in hearing readers and indicate that skilled reading is characterized by distinct patterns of neural tuning to print in deaf and hearing adults.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuropsychologia. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Neuropsychologia, volume 106, in 2017.

The Creative Commons license below applies only to this version of the article.

Peer Reviewed




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.