Wreading and Righting

Two new studies on language-based learning disabilities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Two recent studies, published in Elsevier's journal Cortex, unravel new information on different types of dyslexia and dysgraphia.

The first study, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Bari and Rome in Italy, analyzed the reading and writing abilities of 33 Italian dyslexic children. Researchers Paola Angelelli, Alessandra Notarnicola, Anna Judica, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, and Claudio Luzzatti compared the performance of the dyslexic children to that of children with normal reading abilities. They found that even in an orthographically transparent language - meaning the letters retain consistent sounds, thus making it easier to convert sound into letters - such as Italian, children still had much difficulty spelling. The researchers also found younger children with dyslexia generally performed worse than proficient readers, while the older children exhibited a more selective impairment when spelling. These findings suggest that a knowledge of vocabulary may be more central to spelling capabilities than previously thought.

The second study was conducted by Tel Aviv University's Naama Friedmann, Noa Kerbel, and Lilach Shvimer. Their research offers the first systematic description of attentional dyslexia, a type of reading disorder in which children identify letters correctly, but the letters jump between words on the page. For example, a child with attentional dyslexia might read "better luck" as "letter buck". Unlike other types of dyslexia, which might cause a reader to substitute letters due to an inability to convert them to sounds, attentional dyslexia causes letters to migrate between words on the page. According to Friedmann, Kerbel, and Shvimer's findings, migrating letters would usually occupy the same position in other words, meaning that the first letter of one word would move to become the first letter of a different word. Armed with this information, one is able to suggest a simple method to help these children read more effectively: by presenting them with one word at a time.

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are neurological learning disabilities that affect reading and writing. Dyslexia is characterized by trouble accurately recognizing words, poor spelling, and difficulty with decoding. Dysgraphia, which is similar to dyslexia, causes one's writing to be distorted or incorrect. According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15 to 20 percent of the global population have language-based learning disabilities.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 8, 2010
Last Updated:
December 9, 2010