LHE Dyslexia Newsletter
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
SIX ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR READING
There are six essential skills for reading comprehension.
4. Sentence Construction and Cohesion
5. Reasoning and Background Knowledge
6. Working Memory and Attention
For additional information, please see the article from Understood.org.
I am thankful for my dyslexic mind because it can...
1. See the bigger picture
People with dyslexia often see things more holistically.
They miss the trees but see the forest.
2. Find the odd one out
People with dyslexia excel at global visual processing and the detection of impossible figures. Dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described his unusual sensitivity to “things out of place.”
There are so many people with dyslexia in the field of astrophysics that it prompted research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Findings confirmed that those with dyslexia are better at identifying and memorizing complex images.
3. Improve pattern recognition
People with dyslexia have the ability to see how things connect to form complex systems and to identify similarities among multiple things. Such strengths are likely to be of particular significance for fields like science and mathematics, where visual representations are key.
4. Have spatial knowledge
Many people with dyslexia demonstrate better skills at manipulating 3D objects in their minds. Many of the world’s top architects and fashion designers have dyslexia.
5. Think in Pictures
People with dyslexia tend to think in pictures rather than words. Research at the University of California has demonstrated children with dyslexia have enhanced picture recognition memory. Nineteenth-century French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, could stare at paintings in museums by day and paint them from memory at night. His dyslexia meant he could barely read or write by the age of 14, with his reading skills developing much later.
6. Have Sharp peripheral vision
People with dyslexia have better peripheral vision than most, meaning they can quickly take in a whole scene. Although it can be hard to focus on individual words, dyslexia seems to make it easier to see outer edges.
7. Have the potential to become a business entrepreneur
Did you know that one in three American entrepreneurs have dyslexia?
Entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Charles Schwab were all dyslexic. Perhaps better strategic and creative thinking could provide a real business advantage.
8. Be highly creative
Many of the world’s most creative actors have dyslexia, such as Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, and Orlando Bloom. Picasso was described by his teachers as “having difficulty differentiating the orientation of letters”. Picasso painted his subjects as he saw them – sometimes out of order, backward or upside down. His paintings demonstrated the power of his imagination, which was perhaps linked to the inability to see written words properly.
9. Think outside the box – problem-solving
Those with dyslexia are well known for having sudden leaps of insight that solve problems with an unorthodox approach. This is an intuitive approach to problem-solving that can seem like daydreaming. Staring out of the window is how dyslexics work, letting their brain slide into neutral and ease itself around a problem to let connections assemble.
SPOTLIGHT ON TALKING BOOKS
Because your child is identified with dyslexia, the State of Texas requires all public schools to ensure parents have information about the Talking Books Program. This is a FREE resource for all students with a dyslexia identification.
The Talking Book Program (TBP) provides free library services to qualifying Texans with visual, physical, or reading disabilities. TBP is part of the National Library Service to the Blind and Print Disabled, a program administered by the Library of Congress. The TBP collection consists of more than 100,000 titles, including hundreds of titles in Spanish, and some in French, German, Russian, and other languages.
AUDIOBOOKS: IT'S NOT CHEATING OUR BRAINS
AUDIOBOOKS OR READING? TO OUR BRAINS, IT DOESN'T MATTER; BY JENNIFER WALTER
If you don’t have time to sit and read a physical book, is listening to the audio version considered cheating? To some hardcore book nerds, it could be. But new evidence suggests that to our brains, reading and hearing a story might not be so different.
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley scanned the brains of nine participants while they read and listened to a series of tales from “The Moth Radio Hour.” After analyzing how each word was processed in the brain’s cortex, they created maps of the participants’ brains, noting the different areas helped interpret the meaning of each word.
They mapped out the results in an interactive diagram, which is due to be published on the Gallant Lab website this week.
Looking at the brain scans and data analysis, the researchers saw that the stories stimulated the same cognitive and emotional areas, regardless of their medium. It’s adding to our understanding of how our brains give semantic meaning to the squiggly letters and bursts of sound that make up our communication.
This is Your Brain on Words
In 2016, researchers at the Gallant Lab published their first interactive map of a person’s brain after they listened to two hours of stories from “The Moth.” It’s a vibrant, rainbow-hued diagram of a brain divided into about 60,000 parts, called voxels.
Coding and analyzing the data in each voxel helped researchers visualize which regions of the brain process certain kinds of words. One section responded to terms like “father,” “refused,” and “remarried” – social words that describe dramatic events, people or time.
But the most recent study, which compared brains when they were listening and reading, showed that words tend to activate the same brain regions with the same intensity, regardless of input.
It was a finding that surprised Fatma Deniz, a postdoctoral researcher at the Gallant Lab and lead author of the study. The subject’s brains were creating meaning from the words in the same way, regardless if they were listening or reading. In fact, the brain maps for both auditory and visual input they created from the data looked nearly identical.
Their work is part of a broader effort to understand which regions of our brains help give meaning to certain types of words.
More Work Ahead
Deniz wants to take the experiment even further by testing on a broader range of subjects. She wants to include participants who don’t speak English, speak multiple languages or have auditory processing disorders or dyslexia. Finding out exactly how the brain makes meaning from words could fuel experiments for years.
“This can go forever…it’s an awesome question,” she says. “It would be amazing to understand all aspects of it. And that would be the end goal."
For now, Deniz says the results of this study could make a case for people who struggle with reading or listening to have access to stories in different formats. Kids who grow up with dyslexia, for example, might benefit from audiobooks that are readily available in the classroom.
And if listening to audiobooks is your preferred method of storytelling, you might not be cheating at all. In fact, it seems you’re not losing anything by downloading books on your phone — you’re just being a smart reader, or, listener.