Research suggests that there is a large neglected benefit from dyslexia – ScienceAlert

The modern world is connected by the threads of written language. For those with a reading disorder dyslexiaan endless tangle of words can feel like an obstacle to survival.

Long framed solely as a learning disorder, a neurological condition that makes it difficult to decode text could also benefit individuals and their community in a world full of unknowns.

University of Cambridge psychologists Helen Taylor and Martin David Vestergaard re-examined the traditional view of developmental dyslexia as a disadvantage, suggesting that its neurological characteristics could have advantages in different circumstances.

Specifically, they suggest that brains who find it difficult to interpret written words quickly could more easily explore their environment in search of useful clues that improve decision-making.

“The deficit-focused view of dyslexia doesn’t tell the whole story,” he says Taylor.

“This research proposes a new framework to help us better understand the cognitive strengths of people with dyslexia.”

Developmental dyslexia is characterized by difficulties turning the visual format of a written word into a meaningful set of sounds – what they call in the literacy businessphoneme‘.

It is thought to affect between 5 and 20 percent of the population, but generally restores the ability to read for a year or more, interfering with ongoing learning opportunities as their peers progress.

The effect of this delay in a standardized education system can be profound, reducing self-confidence and self-esteem and potentially feeding through social problems.

Reading recruits a complex variety of visual, linguistic, and attention networks in the brain. With as much as 80 percent of the condition properties depending on hereditary factors, it is likely that something in a person’s genes changes the way these networks function as a whole.

Since dyslexia affects such a wide diversity of the world’s population and is heavily influenced by our genes, it makes sense that evolution has favored it in some way.

Against the background of human evolution, the culture of reading and writing it’s shocking recently. Our general reliance on effective literacy skills is even more recent, meaning that the detrimental effects that dyslexia has on individual cognition would be negligible until recent generations.

Over the decades, psychologists have observed that those who show signs of dyslexia also tend to be better at global abstract and spatial reasoning. They also tend to be more inventive and are better at predicting outcomes.

This could be a coping strategy in a world that values ​​the ability to extract information from the walls of text. Although Taylor and Westergaard don’t think that’s the case.

“We believe that the areas of difficulty faced by people with dyslexia stem from a cognitive trade-off between exploring new information and leveraging existing knowledge, with the advantage of research bias that could explain improved skills seen in specific areas such as discovery, invention and creativity.” he says Taylor.

Psychologically speaking, our minds are limited by the constant stretching of the rope called exploration-exploitation trade-off. To make a decision, we need to make sure that the information we have is accurate and is likely to result in a predictable outcome.

We could wait until we get better information, at the risk of losing that meal (or worse, becoming lunch ourselves). However, act too quickly and we may not learn why our decision is wrong.

“Striking a balance between exploring new opportunities and reaping the benefits of a particular choice is key to adaptation and survival and supports many of the decisions we make in our daily lives,” he says Taylor.

In another life, dyslexia would not manifest as an inability to turn scratches into sounds in our heads – it would improve those quick decision-making skills that could make a difference to life or death for our community.

The framework reflects a broader trend in pathology that views neurodiversity as highly contextualized by pressures within a changing environment.

It is not important that any disorder is a covert superpower, but that the biggest obstacles are factors over which we have direct control. Changing the way we educate, for example, or how we discuss ability solely as harmful, could be a far more effective ‘cure’ than any pill or therapy.

This research was published in Limits in psychology.

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