Dyslexics struggle with connection of shapes in their environment

Dyslexics struggle with connection of shapes in their environment

Dyslexia could in part be due to difficulties in learning automatically and subconsciously how things fit together in the environment. This is the conclusion in a new study of a research team lead by Heiða María Sigurðardóttir, assistant professor at the University of Iceland's Faculty of Psychology, and in close collaboration with Árni Kristjánsson, professor at the same faculty. The study was published on 4 April in Scientific Reports.
 
In addition to Heiða María and Árni, both current and former students at the Faculty of Psychology were party to the study, Hilda Björk Daníelsdóttir, Margrét Guðmundsdóttir, Kristján Helgi Hjartarson and Elín Ástrós Þórarinsdóttir.
 
Research scientists have generally considered dyslexia to have linguistic roots, especially concerning phonological processing. The research team at the UI Faculty of Psychology has, however, recently been studying whether people with dyslexia showed diminished capability for visual statistical learning. The team had previously demonstrated that people with dyslexia are impaired at recognizing other visually complex objects such as faces and different bird species. This indicates that dyslexia can in some part be traced to the brain's visual system. 
 

Dyslexic people struggle with visual information

The aim of the research is to study weather people with dyslexia struggle more with visual statistical learning than typical readers. The research team compared the performance of 37 adults with dyslexia with an equal number of typical readers (matched by the same gender, age and educational background) when tested for visual statistical learning. The test included simple forms the participants had not previously seen. Some forms appeared together often, whilst others were rarely or never paired. Previous studies have shown that people can learn without intent or awareness which forms go together with visual statistical learning; even without any concious awareness of their connections. 
 
This research showed that participants with dyslexia had generally more difficulties with visual statistical learning than other participants; that is which forms appeared often together. These group differences were not accounted for by differences in intelligence, ability to remember individual shapes, or spatial attention paid to the stimuli. 
The research team is currently working on further research on dyslexia. They are search for participants, both people with dyslexia and typical readers. Everyone over 18 who is interested is encouraged to contact the team via e-mail skynjun@hi.is or phone 845-0833. 
 
The project is on Facebook.
 
Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 10:30
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