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Icelandic Researchers Find Connection Between Dyslexia and Visual Processing

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Icelandic Researchers Find Connection Between Dyslexia and Visual Processing

Icelandic language learning text

Photo: Wikipedia.

A new study conducted by researchers and students in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Iceland indicates that there may be a connection between dyslexia and “abnormal face processing,” RÚV reports. This finding was reported in an article published in the most recent volume of the scientific journal Cognition.

The performance of individuals with dyslexia was measured against individuals without the reading disorder in two different experiments. The results showed that the dyslexic subjects had more trouble distinguishing faces. They did not, however, have the same level of difficulty in distinguishing between patterns or so-called “novel objects,” such as aliens.

These findings indicate that people with dyslexia see just as well as people without. However, experience doesn’t play the same role in their vision system. Namely, having seen something before (i.e. a human face) doesn’t necessarily help people with dyslexia process what it is that they are looking at, or to remember it later. Therefore, wrote the researchers in their article abstract, “[w]e speculate that reading difficulties in dyslexia are partially caused by specific deficits in high-level visual processing, in particular for visual object categories such as faces and words with which people have extensive experience.”

Professor Heiða María Sigurðardóttir, the lead researcher on the study, says that there have been very few studies conducted that examine the vision system in connection with dyslexia in this way. The research group behind this study has also recently completed research on visual perception at the Icelandic Vision Lab and will continue to research this topic from various angles, including the role of visual perception in reading and reading disorders.

You can access the abstract of the article (in English), entitled “Specific problems in visual cognition of dyslexic readers: Face discrimination deficits predict dyslexia over and above discrimination of scrambled faces and novel objects,” here.

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