For people with dyslexia, playing action video games may help them better manage shifting attention between audio and visual cues, new research reveals.
Dyslexia affects five to ten percent of the population and is a learning disability in reading, writing and spelling. One well-documented side effect is difficulty processing and switching between visual and audio sensory cues– for example, looking at an image and then shifting attention to a sudden noise.
In a new study published in Cell Biology, researchers tested the reaction times of 34 participants by asking them to press a button each time they heard a sound, saw a dim flash or experienced both together during the experiment. Half the group had dyslexia and half did not.
Overall, they found that people with dyslexia had slower reaction times when a sound cue followed a visual cue, compared to the control group.
“This fits into the attention model of dyslexia – being slower to shift attention from one thing to another,” study author Vanessa Harrar, junior research fellow at the University of Oxford said.
Their findings lead researchers to hypothesize that video games may be valuable for people with dyslexia – helping them train to shift more easily between auditory and visual stimuli. Harrar cited the example of children learning to read– when a teacher says the sound of a letter, then shows the letter, says the next sound, then shows the next letter. There’s a constant shift between sound and visual stimuli and location that, if one is unable to shift attention that way, makes it difficult to learn the sound associated with the letter and the word.