Decoding reading mechanisms to help people with dyslexia



Humans have been reading for thousands of years, yet science still does not really understand how the brain deciphers words and why, in some cases, it has difficulty in doing so. Do we intuitively recognize a word all at once, or do we unconsciously read one letter at a time, from left to right, much in the same way we write? Neither of these, suggests the work of Martin Arguin, a professor in the Department of psychology at Université de Montréal. Rather, the researcher observed that normal readers first read the letters in the middle of the word, followed by the first letter, while dyslexic readers start with the end of the word. This discovery, which goes against current theories, highlights an attentional bias that affects the reading performance of people with dyslexia. Furthermore, using a technique developed in his laboratory, Martin Arguin noticed that, during reading, neuronal synchronization occurs at specific frequencies in most readers, except among dyslexic readers who appear to use very different frequencies.

Rather, the researcher observed that normal readers first read the letters in the middle of the word, followed by the first letter, while dyslexic readers start with the end of the word.

Following these observations, the researcher evaluated the benefits of attention training using NeuroTracker software. So far, the results have shown improved reading performance. In a further effort to help people with dyslexia, as well as poor readers, Martin Arguin is also working on developing a new character font better adapted to our visual system. Among other things, this font emphasizes the differences between letters with similar shapes, such as p and q. Early tests suggest that this super font would allow an experience reader to increase reading speed by 14%. The next step is to test the font on dyslexic readers. A school in Gatineau wants to use the font with its dyslexic students to measure its long-term benefits.