Cross-modal perceptual learning as demonstrated in dyslexics

Gadi Geiger, M. L. Lorusso, S. Pesenti, A. Facoetti, C. Cattaneo, J. Lettvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Complex task performance characteristically involves multiple-modal sensory perception. Would the learning of a new task by visual and visuomotor practice also results in improved performance in the auditory-phonemic modality? Dyslexics (one group of 14 adults and another of 17 children) who were impaired in reading and phonemic abilities, were characterized by a wide region of visual attention. They practiced a regimen comprised of novel hand-eye coordination tasks (art work and the like) and reading single words with a mask (a small window in a blank sheet), together for 50 minutes to 2 hours per day over 4 to 8 months. As a result of the practice the dyslexics learned a new perceptual strategy, which was expressed by narrowing the region of visual attention and concurrently improved reading significantly. Tests of auditory-phonemic skills and reading of nonsense words (considered as a measure for phonemic awareness) also showed a significant improvement although auditory-phonemic practice was not included in the regimen. This improvement of the psycho-auditory skill as a consequence of a regimen, which includes only hand-eye coordination practice together with visual recognition of single words, indicates close cross-modal interactions. That suggests two possibilities. Either a strategy is sensory-modality specific, and once it is learned by that modality there can be a "spill-over" to other modalities by association. Or, there is a general perceptual strategy which governs perception, i.e. once a strategy is learned in one sensory modality it is learned for other modalities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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