Spatial Attention Disorders in Developmental Dyslexia: Towards the Prevention of Reading Acquisition Deficits

Andrea Facoetti

in Visual Aspects of Dyslexia

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199589814
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744785 | DOI:
Spatial Attention Disorders in Developmental Dyslexia: Towards the Prevention of Reading Acquisition Deficits

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In children with developmental dyslexia and pre-reading children this chapter argues that sluggish orienting and engagement of visual and auditory attention impairs crucial orthographic-to-phonological translations, and is the developmentally most plausible core deficit in dyslexia. Since attentional orienting improves perception by intensifying the signal at the focus of attention as well as diminishing the effects of noise outside it, the typical deficits that dyslexics display in multi-sensory perceptual noise exclusion could arise as a consequence of a dysfunction in spatial attention. Likewise, sluggish temporal sampling of speech could explain the phonological difficulties typically found in individuals with dyslexia. In addition, efficient grapheme-to-phoneme translation requires rapid selection of sub-lexical orthographic units by orienting spatial attention sequentially, and recent studies have shown that spatial attention is impaired in dyslexics. A possible neurobiological basis for the deficits in attentional orienting in dyslexics could be a weakened magnocellular input to the dorsal visual stream that mainly controls spatial attention by the occipito-parieto- frontal system. Recent studies in pre-reading children at familial risk of dyslexia, as well as longitudinal studies of reading acquisition, have suggested that magnocellular-dorsal stream sensitivity and attentional orienting are together important predictors of early reading acquisition. This review therefore offers new suggestions not only for early identification and remediation, but also for developing more efficient methods for alleviating developmental dyslexia through intensive training in spatial attention before attempting to teach reading itself.

Keywords: children; orthographic; magnocellular; developmental; reading

Chapter.  7540 words. 

Subjects: Neuroscience

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