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Study Suggests Video Games Might Help Dyslexics

2014-3-2
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder, it interferes with the ability to recognise words, and for some readers to understand what they have read.

Experts say dyslexia affects about five to ten percent of the population of the United State. Researchers have long known that people with dyslexia write or read words and letters backwards in the wrong order.


FILE - Show attendees play video games on the PlayStation 4 at the Sony booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, June 13, 2013.

But a new study shows that people with dyslexia may have trouble redirecting their attention between senses, from seeing something to hearing something. The study suggests something that might help dyslexic people learn more quickly - play video games.

Vanessa Harrar of Britain's University of Oxford led the study. She reported the findings in the journal Current Biology. The study suggests that dyslexic people may have trouble moving quickly from what they read to what they hear. Doctor Harrar calls this a "sluggish shifting of attention across the senses."

"So, if you are trying to read something and then trying to listen to somebody who's reading aloud and you're trying to follow along with what they are reading -- they have to switch their attention from hearing what they are saying to looking at the piece of paper and back again. So we found they have quite sluggish shifting of attention across the senses," said Harrar.

In the study, Doctor Harrar tested 17 people with dyslexia, and 19 others without reading problems. The volunteers were asked to push a button as quickly as possible when they heard a sound, saw a light or experienced both together. Doctor Harrar compared the speed of their reactions.

She found that people with dyslexia were just as fast as the others when they saw only a picture or heard only a sound. But the dyslexics had a slower reaction time when they heard a sound and saw a picture at the same time.

Doctor Harrar feels like playing action video games could help dyslexic people shift from seeing to hearing more quickly. She adds that images in video games force the eyes to move and focus quickly.

"Video game types of things pop out of here and there, they move your eyes around the screen quite quickly in response to things quite quickly, and the more you play a video game the faster you get that kind of thing. So, the video game is really training the attention system to move quickly," said Harrar.

The study also shows that dyslexic people have the most difficulty going between what they saw and what they heard, this may have an effect on how dyslexic children are taught how to read.

When children learn the alphabet,they usually see the letter first and then hear the sound, or they see and hear the letter at the same time. The study shows that dyslexics might learn more quickly if they hear the sound of a letter or word first before seeing it.

And that is the Technology Report from VOA Learning English. I'm June Simms.