Is it really possible that video games can improve literary skills in people with dyslexia? That is something the University of Oxford study is reporting. The study tested how people who suffer from the condition process the different sensory stimuli the brain receives, and is reportedly the first of its kind.
Vanessa Harrar, one of the researchers in the study, explained that people that are dyslexic find it hard to handle cross-sensory shifts in their attention. This happens when a person is using visual stimuli to talk to someone and then shifts to the audio stimuli when they hear their name being said from behind them. This is much harder for those with dyslexia compared to those who have good literary skills.
As a way to test the ability to shift between stimuli, 34 participants were asked to press a button whenever they saw a flash of light, heard a sound, or experienced both together. They were to push the button as quickly as possible. 50 percent of the participants had the disability while the other 50 percent had not been diagnosed with it.
The study showed that those who had the disability would be just as fast as those without when it involved one of the stimuli. However, when it involved both those who were not dyslexic were much quicker. But how does this lead to video games helping to improve the literary skills of those with dyslexia?
Harrar suggested that video games could help with training. She believes that those who hear a sound first and then see the word or letter that corresponds to that sound will improve their ability to process the multisensory stimuli. Video games are useful because they force someone to shift their focus between the two different stimuli on a regular basis. By developing this ability, those who are dyslexic should also develop their reading and writing skills.
She explained that video games have already proven to help people multitask. The researcher used this knowledge to develop her theory that they could then help people switch quickly between different tasks. Her belief is that action video games will be much more beneficial than any others.
Training to help people with this disability has more recently been rooted in the idea of phonetics and words. However, it is the attention that the Oxford University researchers believe is the problem. With that in mind, the best way to help people is by focusing on improving the attention span, rather than just on the literacy skills.
This is not the first time video games have been considered good for people. Many are now focusing on social interaction, such as through Live technology, and have been linked to boosting the brain power. One study in Iowa showed that playing brain-teaser games could help to slow the process of aging.
The University of Oxford study isn’t the first to show that video games can help dyslexic people. In a University of Padua study, showed that children between the ages of seven and 13 who played Rayman Raving Rabids saw an improvement in their reading skills. It really could be possible that dyslexia can be improved with video games.
By Alexandria Ingham