Perceptual learning as a possible new approach for remediation and prevention of developmental dyslexia

Simone Gori, Andrea Facoetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Learning to read is extremely difficult for about 10% of children across cultures because they are affected by developmental dyslexia (DD). According to the dominant view, DD is considered an auditory-phonological processing deficit. However, accumulating evidence from developmental and clinical vision science, suggests that the basic cross-modal letter-to-speech sound integration deficit in DD might arise from a mild atypical development of the magnocellular-dorsal pathway which also contains the main fronto-parietal attentional network. Letters have to be precisely selected from irrelevant and cluttering letters by rapid orienting of visual attention before the correct letter-to-speech sound integration applies. Our aim is to review the literature supporting a possible role of perceptual learning (PL) in helping to solve the puzzle called DD. PL is defined as improvement of perceptual skills with practice. Based on the previous literature showing how PL is able to selectively change visual abilities, we here propose to use PL to improve the impaired visual functions characterizing DD and, in particular, the visual deficits that could be developmentally related to an early magnocellular-dorsal pathway and selective attention dysfunction. The crucial visual attention deficits that are causally linked to DD could be, indeed, strongly reduced by training the magnocellular-dorsal pathway with the PL, and learning to read for children with DD would not be anymore such a difficult task. This new remediation approach - not involving any phonological or orthographic training - could be also used to develop new prevention programs for pre-reading children at DD risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-87
Number of pages10
JournalVision Research
Volume99
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Clinical vision
  • Dorsal pathway
  • Perceptual learning
  • Reading disability remediation
  • Reading disorder
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Medicine(all)

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