Thursday, March 7th, 2013
A study conducted by Italian researchers has found that playing action-packed video games and manipulating the devices used to play may help children with the learning disability dyslexia improve their performance in reading by training children to focus their attention and examine the game for both speed and accuracy. More from The New York Times:
The small study, published online last week in Current Biology, involved two groups of 10 dyslexic children. One group played action video games for nine sessions of 80 minutes each, while the other followed the same routine with nonaction games. The researchers bought the games in retail stores and have no financial interest in any video game company.
Age, I.Q., reading speed, error rates and phonological skills were similar in the two groups at the beginning of the study. The researchers measured the attention and reading skills of the children before and after the game sessions and then compared them.
Those trained on the action games scored significantly higher than those who played the nonaction games by various measures: combined speed and accuracy, recognizing pseudo-words made of random letters, and reaction time. The action game players also scored higher on tests that measured attention by inserting distractions as the children tried to accomplish various visual and auditory tasks.
Image: Teen playing video game, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012
A California couple says their 16-year-old son wasn’t allowed to board a plane last weekend because airline employees described him as a “flight risk.” But Joan and Robert Vanderhorst believe they were actually removed from the American Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles because employees did not want their son Bede, who has Down Syndrome, to sit in first class. The New York Daily News reports:
Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a “lark” they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.
“My wife said, ‘oh Bede’s never flown first class,’ he’ll be so excited.”
Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown “at least 30 times” through his life and has never caused any trouble.
Nothing was different before Sunday’s flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.
But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn’t feel safe allowing him on the plane.
The airline told the Daily News that Bede was “agitated” in the waiting area. “Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen,” the airline said. The family was escorted away from the gate by police, and rebooked on a United Airlines flight. Bede’s parents are considering a lawsuit accusing the airline of violating the teen’s civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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Thursday, August 4th, 2011
Dyslexia, the learning disability that affects reading and spelling skills for an estimated 15-20 percent of the American population, may have an auditory component, a new study has found. The findings could have implications for how dyslexic children are taught in school. The New York Times reports:
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A study published last week in the journal Science suggests that how dyslexics hear language may be more important than previously realized. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that people with dyslexia have more trouble recognizing voices than those without dyslexia.
John Gabrieli, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, and Tyler Perrachione, a graduate student, asked people with and without dyslexia to listen to recorded voices paired with cartoon avatars on computer screens. The subjects tried matching the voices to the correct avatars speaking English and then an unfamiliar language, Mandarin.
Nondyslexics matched voices to avatars correctly almost 70 percent of the time when the language was English and half the time when the language was Mandarin. But people with dyslexia were able to do so only half the time, whether the language was English or Mandarin. Experts not involved in the study said that was a striking disparity.
“Typically, you see big differences in reading, but there are just subtle general differences between individuals who are afflicted with dyslexia and individuals who aren’t on a wide variety of tests,” said Richard Wagner, a psychology professor at Florida State University. “This effect was really large.”
Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a director of the Center for Dyslexia and Creativity at Yale University, said the study “demonstrates the centrality of spoken language in dyslexia — that it’s not a problem in meaning, but in getting to the sounds of speech.”
That is why dyslexic children often misspeak, she said, citing two examples drawn from real life. “A child at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox said, ‘Oh, I’m thirsty. Can we go to the confession stand?,’ ” she said.