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Reading Specialist, Reading Vision

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Dyslexia; Is it a neurological or visual issue?

Current research on Dyslexia suggests that it is a deep-rooted neurological based issue that is difficult to solve. However, dyslexic peculiarities can easily be resolved simply by placing the reading material in a position where the words become clear. If the words can be made clear and instantaneous improved reading occurs, is the problem neurological, or is it visual? Could it be that poor visual input causes poor neurological function, sort of like, "garbage in, garbage out?" Here is a simple test to use with someone who demonstrates reading problems such as dyslexia. You can use regular reading material or nonsense words. Place the reading material flat on the desk. We call this position "A". Have the person sit up straight in their chair and read the information. Most likely they will demonstrate, choppy reading with many errors. They will make up words, skip lines of text, and have trouble sounding out new words. Then have them hold the book or paper with both hands and bring the paper up slowly in an arc until it is directly in front of their face. We call this position "C". Make sure they don't extend their arms too much. Now have them tell you if the words are more clear. If they are, have them read again. You will see a noticeable improvement in their reading speed and fluency. Have them continue to move the paper up in this arc so they are looking slightly up. This is position "D". For many, this is the best position. If this is the most clear position for them, have them read the text or nonsense words. Again you will see an amazing improvement in their reading. So the question remains: Is dyslexia a neurological issue or a visual issue? Or, is it a neurological issues caused by a visual issue? I believe it involves a mis-alignment of stereopsis while looking down that is corrected while looking straight ahead or slightly up. I can easily get students out of their dyslexia with a stereoscopic eye exercise and new focusing point while reading.

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    Mar 10 2014: Under regular lighting conditions, facing downwards usually reduces the received light on the retina to some degree, as long as table tops aren't bright or even reflective. So if contrast would have something to do with it, maybe a few more degree in contrast, could already improve the clarity of an falsely effected area by visual 'interpolation'?

    Also your observation of adding a different 'focus point' would align to my given, vague hypothesis, which by no means is based on any medical or neurological knowledge of mine, but pure fiction, as I am a mechanical engineer by education and no medical doctor nor medical scientist.

    Have you considered to contact specialists on this matter?

    Have you ever experimented with different forms to present text? Maybe inverted - white text on black background? Or computer screen reading with active back-light? Or different color-schemes in text and background? Or did you check your students 'blind spots'?

    http://www.evolutionevidence.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/blindSpot768x1024.jpg

    http://www.bio.miami.edu/tom/courses/protected/ECK/CH07/figure-07-37.jpg

    Your observations are certainly interesting to investigate further, as your stated results seem to appear to have to high an impact to remain unclear in what is causing it.

    Have you considered to contact specialists in this matter?
    • Mar 10 2014: Hi Lejan. People have been interested in contrast as both cause and effect problems. However, with our method the problem corrects almost all peculiarities due to dyslexia. What you described is the basic problem in reading that is the white overwhelms the black letters. This clears with our method. You mentioned the dark spots. I am not certain as to just exactly what you mean, but you appear to describe the Scotomata that we find in about 20% of the dyslexics we work with. It is a retinal eye area suppression that can be as small as a dot to as large as a obstruction. It occurs when the two eyes are not aligned properly. You mentioned the problem with reading music. Our findings suggests that nearly all dyslexics experience music note reading. They frequently say that the notes will not come out of their fingers and they play by ear. These individuals merely need to use a simple focusing point that we teach. We frequently describe to adults that after they use this method they are going to feel like they have been cheated. Their life-long struggle is due to a correctable visual problem and it produces all of the confounding problems of dyslexia.
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        Mar 11 2014: You described Scotomata as a matter of eye alignment, which in the brain would cause an overlapping of visual images in relation to their mismatch in alignment.

        What I was trying to describe is different from that.

        Any eye has a natural 'blind spot', which is the region in the retina where the visual nerve is attached to it. At this 'junction', no light receptors exist, thus no visual information can be collected. This is a natural phenomena and caused by the way our eyes are designed.

        Even though both of our eyes have one 'blind spot' each, no one normally notice them and this is because the missing visual information is automatically substituted by the visual cortex in our brains and this in 'real time', thats why we are incapable of noticing it.

        So the visual information, which isn't there, is generated in our brains by a process similar to 'interpolation' in mathematics, by which missing values in between two numbers are calculated by a weighted addition of the numbers existing.

        For instance, a missing value in between 5 and 6 would be 5.5 by which the interpolation calculates by adding 5+6 and dividing by the number of used data points, which is 2 in this case. The result is a smooth average, as both existing values are weighted 50% each in this example.

        Something similar does our brain to the missing visual information of both 'blind spots' of our eyes, and to do this, it has to cleverly 'choose' existing visual information to interpolate from so that the 'calculated' information blends in as smooth as possible.

        Technically, it would gather all existing visual information of the light receptors right around the perimeter of the 'blind spots', to have the closest data possible to the missing ones in this areas to interpolate them. And after this 'calculation' is done, it has to exactly place and orient this 'new' data at the right place in our mental representation of our sight.
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        Mar 11 2014: My question now is, can this 'interpolation module' in our visual cortex malfunction in a way, that it not only fills in the missing information at exact and defined locations, but also, maybe, distributes this new data onto other areas as well, to cause visual 'overlapping' at places where this additional information would distort the original one.

        If this was possible, its cause would be purely neurological, as it would solely effect the 'image processing' within our brains independently of the 'quality' of our eyes, which are nothing but 'plain' light receptors anyway.

        By this, even perfectly aligned eyesight could be distorted in the later process of 'mental visualization' and it could cause all sorts of poor sight and visual artifacts in direct relation to the individual malfunction this 'interpolation process' would produce.

        Imagine what overlapping ghost images in our visual focus points would do to the clarity of our sight if our brain was having problems to correctly 'map' the right data at the right places...
        • Mar 11 2014: What you infer can be explained through an incorrect visual input producing an incorrect input into the occipital lobe V1 visual center. Here the interpretation allows for the correct distribution within the brain.

          Are you interested in learning more about our system? I can send you a code for a free download of our book, Dyslexia Solved. If so, send an email to me at jdebraga@readingvision.net
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        Mar 11 2014: Thank you very much for your kind offer, Joe, yet as I grew out of my dyslexia many years ago and have no one close suffering from it, the free book is more useful for someone in need.

        Inspired by your report I was just thinking out loud here.

        In any case I wish you all the best for your further work in helping dyslexic people!
        • Mar 11 2014: Thanks for the great conversation. You gave me a few ideas to think about as we continue to improve our system.

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