Dyslexia: Video Games a Benefit?


Dyslexia is a language processing disorder that makes reading, spelling and writing a much more difficult task. It is can be extremely frustrating for those who have it and dyslexics are always looking for ways to adapt. Now, new research shows that video games may be a benefit for dyslexia.

There is not a whole lot of reading involved in action video games, so how can it help? According to the study published in Cell Biology, it may help people with dyslexia improve on managing the transfer of attention between audio and visual signals.

As the disorder affects up to 10 percent of the population, it is already known that dyslexics struggle with interpreting and transferring their attention from visual to auditory indicators.

The study contained 34 participants, half with dyslexia and the other half without. They told the members of the study to press a button each time they heard a sound, saw a faint light appear or if both happened simultaneously. As expected, the half with dyslexia had a slower response when an auditory signal came before a visual one than the half without dyslexia. However, when the audio clue came after the visual one, both group’s response rates were comparable. The researchers believe this is because in this format, the clues seemed to come from the same place to the participants. This is something that had not yet been seen among dyslexics. Oxford University’s junior research fellow, Vanessa Harrar said that this is the first time a study has done a location control so that the perception is that everything is coming from the same place. But still, how do video games benefit dyslexia?

From the results of this study, Researchers have been lead to believe that it could help train dyslexics to more easily transfer their focus from visual to auditory cues. Harrar, gave the example of learning to read. She said when teachers say the letter and the sound it makes then show the letter, it can be hard for those with dyslexia to follow. Since shifting attention from different locations seems to be especially difficult, it makes it hard for dyslexics to learn to associate the sound of the letter with the look of the letter. Action video games often have multiple sounds and visuals going on simultaneously. Harrar said that by playing a game with a multisensory component and different locations for the sounds and visuals, it could help train dyslexic’s brains to adapt to this challenge and potentially help them to be better able to learn. The idea being that the quicker they get at responding in a video game, which happens with practice, the quicker they can respond in the real world.

Right now, the research is preliminary, but Harrar said that programs for training people with dyslexia should consider the location finding. The research team eventually wants to create video games that can specifically target dyslexia deficits. But Harrar, as a dyslexic herself, is mostly worried about finding the right treatment fit for each person. And video games may be the right treatment for some people with dyslexia.

By Rebecca Hofland

Medical Daily
Voice of America
FOX News
National Center for Learning Disabilities

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