Recent dyslexia research conducted by scientists at Georgetown University has shed new light on the causes of the disorder, as well as how it impacts females and males. Brain studies reveal that dyslexia looks different in a female’s brain as opposed to a male’s brain. Females show deficits in the areas of the brain associated with processing sensorimotor information. Conversely, males show deficits in the language processing area of the brain.
Because dyslexia is more than twice as likely to occur in males, the impacts of the disorder on females tend to be overlooked in research. However, research on male brains is not generalizable to females because of the differences in the way their brains work. For example, women use both hemispheres of their brain for tasks related to language, whereas men generally use only the left hemisphere. This difference, as well as other subtle differences in the way male and female brains operate, require dyslexia research – as well as treatments for the disorder – to be sex-specific.
Furthermore, the Georgetown researchers suggest that reading difficulties associated with dyslexia are not caused by deficits of the visual system, but rather, that reading deficits occur because dyslexic people tend to read less. For example, when compared to younger children with the same reading abilities, the brains of dyslexic children are comparable. Furthermore, studies show that reading interventions that use phonological training stimulate activity in dyslexic children’s brains and help improve their reading ability. The ability of our brains to adapt, build new neural pathways and improve functioning – a process called neuroplasticity – is what allows dyslexic children to improve their ability to read over time. But it also means that deciphering the specific causes of dyslexia symptoms is made more difficult.
Identifying dyslexia in children can be tricky, but what the Georgetown research indicates is that identification of dyslexia should not be based upon visual processing difficulties alone. Similarly, treatment shouldn’t focus solely on the visual system. Rather, a holistic treatment program, including phonological training, classroom accommodations, and vestibular training seems to be the most impactful regimen for children with dyslexia. While dyslexia is a condition that children never outgrow, it is certainly possible to increase their reading functioning, improve academic performance, and boost confidence and self-esteem. For more information about dyslexia research and vestibular-based dyslexia treatments, visit https://learningbreakthrough.com/specific-challenges/dyslexia-reading-challenges.