Saturday, December 23, 2006

Does Cause Noise Dyslexia? …Oops

news you may not know

Can You Add A

Tuba And Drums?

Confident your latest research places you at the forefront of academia, you waltz into the campus library at a fervid pace more befitting an impassioned tango. You just can't help yourself. The final piece fell into place late last night and you've spent an agonizing seven hours waiting for the doors to open.

You make a beeline for the stacks, round the corner and... yes, there he is! Kinda quiet, on the nervous side, semi-agitated most of the time, always shushing people, has a horrible time concentrating on his reading - He's perfect...

You set down a case on the table beside him, slap his hand as he tries to shove the case off the edge and withdraw an old, but fully functional, brass trumpet. With his exasperated shushes now echoing throughout the floor you begin to play a raucous, and wholly off-key, rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In. Then, in the blink of an eye, he's reading...

No more shushes, no more random spray of spittle. Just calm, quite reflection and the occasional tap of the toe in time to those marching saints.

Is it possible both the cause and the cure to dyslexia is noise? LOTS of noise? Recent research, contradicting thirty years of precedence on the underlying mechanisms of dyslexia, says exactly that. Current theory holds dyslexia is a neural deficit in processing the fast sounds and visual components of language. Known as the "magnocellular hypothesis," it has served as the foundational explanation of dyslexia since seminal experiments were conducted in the 1970s.

The new theory...

...developed through a series of recent studies, contends dyslexic children have diminished abilities to filter out unwanted input. The children, in fact, have no neural processing deficits but a simple inability to concentrate amidst auditory and visual distractions. Researchers tested subjects on tasks requiring both slow and fast processing of visual patterns. They found dyslexic children performed both slow and fast tasks normally in a quiet environment. But, when they increased the noise level, their performance rapidly deteriorated on both scales.

What's the solution? Ah - that would be the noise factor. Scientists hypothesize training dyslexic children in noisy environments will help strengthen their faulty filters, allowing them to focus on the relevant input. Children with normalized input will develop appropriate mental language categories and stronger letter and word sound recognition skills.

What of Library Science?

Yes, it may be your new calling indeed. A traipsing trumpeter - a troubadour of truth. Bravely marching into the quiet sanctuaries of silence and calling forth the dismal dyslexics whose only desire is to fill their minds with words of wonder - and, possibly, the occasional vision of those marching saints...

To read more about the studies, see this from ScienceDaily.


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