Visual Rather Than Auditory Stimulation May Improve Reading in Dyslexic Children

Dyslexic children who play a computer game that trains them to detect subtle, moving patterns have significantly increased their reading speeds, attention and memory, according to a randomized, controlled trial.

The games, part of the PATH to Reading program, are designed to improve visual motion processing. Compared to the auditory reading improvement program called Fast ForWord, PATH was associated with significant improvements in reading fluency, speed, comprehension, attention and working memory, the study found.

“These results show that visual temporal processing is fundamental for learning to read, paying attention, and remembering, contrary to claims that reading is only phonologically-based,” according to Dr. Teri Lawton, founder of the Perception Dynamics Institute, which developed the PATH program and a team from the University of California, San Diego.

This research was published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience “Improving Dorsal Stream Function in Dyslexics by Training Figure/Ground Motion Discrimination Improves Attention Reading Fluency, and Working Memory” in August 2016.

The researchers evaluated 20-week interventions on 58 second-grade students diagnosed with dyslexia. They divided the students into three groups, PATH for 30 minutes per day, three days per week; Fast ForWord (FFW) for 30 minutes per day,; and a control group.

All of the students also underwent a reading program called “Learning Upgrade.” The students took standardized tests of reading fluency, attention and working memory and the researchers compared the differences with Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVAs).

PATH significantly improved attention, reading fluency, and working memory. FFW, on the other hand, improved many of these cognitive skills, but none of these improvements were significant.

The researchers suspect that the PATH games target the dorsal stream area of the brain that is thought to cause dyslexics to struggle with reading.

The publication is available online here: More information about the Path to Reading program is here:

SLUGLINE: 20131113drgd001

dyslexic: those who have difficulty reading, but have normal vision and intelligence; dorsal stream: where letters, words, and objects are located; ventral stream: what are the letters, words, and objects that we see, including their color, depth, and texture; magnocells- large cells originating in the retina and called parasol cells, segregated in different layers in the lateral geniculate nucleus (lgn), and input to a specific layer (4Ca) in V1, the primary visual cortex, comprising the major cell type in the dorsal stream; parvocells- small cells originating in the retina and called midget ganglion cells, segregated in different layers in the lateral geniculate nucleus (lgn), and input to different layers in V1 (4Cb), the primary visual cortex, comprising the major cell type in the ventral stream.