Many people who have it are unable to read properly when they are younger, or read a lot slower than a non-dyslexic reader.
They may also have trouble spelling or reading things like nonsense words. In short, dyslexia is a learning disability in which people have trouble translating visual language into language that the brain can understand.
It happens to be one of the most common learning disabilities among children, affect anywhere from 10% – 15% of our population, according to various sources.
Until recently it has been thought of mostly as a learning disability that specifically affects the ability to read and understand writing.
However, research recently completed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology adds another dimension to dyslexia that helps us understand exactly what it is.
Graduate student Tyler Perrachione, left, and Professor John Gabrieli found that people with dyslexia have a much harder time identifying voices of different speakers than non-dyslexics.
Credit Photo: Patrick Gillooly
John Gabrieli, professor of cognitive neuroscience at GabrieliLab MIT, and his team of graduate students performed an experiment in which they took two groups of students, one with dyslexia and one without.
Firstly, they exposed them to voices of English speakers coming from cartoon characters.
Secondly, they exposed them to voices of Chinese speakers coming from cartoon characters.
After seeing the characters and hearing their voices, they were given a test, in which their task was to match the voice to the face of the person.
Overall, neither group was able to match the Chinese voice to the respective bodies with much success.
However, when it came to matching the English speaking voices to their cartoon bodies, the non-dyslexic speakers were able to match and distinguish the voices fairly well, whereas the dyslexic students had a similar success rate to matching the Chinese voices.
In other words, the dyslexic students faced difficulties matching voices to bodies no matter what the language.
This is a very significant finding because it shows that there is more to dyslexia than simply not being able to read properly.
It appears to have something to do with hearing as well, which could prove to be very helpful in diagnosing children with dyslexia much earlier on in life.
Many of the students with dyslexia who participated in the study were very high functioning students, referring to the fact that their dyslexia was not overly severe, yet they still had difficulties distinguishing the English speaking voices when matching them to the cartoon characters.
In light of this study, there could possibly be a way to test children when they are younger for dyslexia.
Currently, many students find out that they are dyslexic around the second grade, by which time they may have already suffered from a reduced level of learning.
Having found that dyslexia is also audio based, would allow educators to test students earlier, using some type of voice recognition test.
However, things are not that simple because failing a voice recognition test may not necessarily be a sign of dyslexia.
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