Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia

Marco Zorzi, Chiara Barbiero, Andrea Facoetti, Isabella Lonciari, Marco Carrozzi, Marcella Montico, Laura Bravar, Florence George, Catherine Pech-Georgel, Johannes C. Ziegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although the causes of dyslexia are still debated, all researchers agree that the main challenge is to find ways that allow a child with dyslexia to read more words in less time, because reading more is undisputedly the most efficient intervention for dyslexia. Sophisticated training programs exist, but they typically target the component skills of reading, such as phonological awareness. After the component skills have improved, the main challenge remains (that is, reading deficits must be treated by reading more - a vicious circle for a dyslexic child). Here, we show that a simple manipulation of letter spacing substantially improved text reading performance on the fly (without any training) in a large, unselected sample of Italian and French dyslexic children. Extra-large letter spacing helps reading, because dyslexics are abnormally affected by crowding, a perceptual phenomenon with detrimental effects on letter recognition that is modulated by the spacing between letters. Extra-large letter spacing may help to break the vicious circle by rendering the reading material more easily accessible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11455-11459
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number28
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 2012

Keywords

  • Orthographic processing
  • Print
  • Visual-attentional deficits
  • Word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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  • Cite this

    Zorzi, M., Barbiero, C., Facoetti, A., Lonciari, I., Carrozzi, M., Montico, M., Bravar, L., George, F., Pech-Georgel, C., & Ziegler, J. C. (2012). Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(28), 11455-11459. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1205566109