Neural oscillation refers to the rhythmic activity of large numbers of the brains neurons. It is these oscillations that produce the brain waves that are measured on a EEG. Here’s a recent paper suggesting that dyslexia may be caused by abnormal neural oscillation in parts of the brain related to auditory and visual processing. Here is the abstract:
It has been proposed that atypical neural oscillations in both the auditory and the visual modalities could explain why some individuals fail to learn to read and suffer from developmental dyslexia. However, the role of specific oscillatory mechanisms in reading acquisition is still under debate. In this article, we take a cross-linguistic approach and argue that both the phonological and orthographic specifics of a language (e.g., linguistic rhythm, orthographic depth) shape the oscillatory activity thought to contribute to reading development. The proposed theoretical framework should allow future research to test cross-linguistic hypotheses that will shed light on the heterogeneity of auditory and visual disorders and their underlying brain dysfunction(s) in developmental dyslexia, and inform clinical practice by helping us to diagnose dyslexia across languages.
Matthew Schneps at Scientific American asks if there are cognitive advantages to dyslexia. It appears that people with dyslexia are better at picking out impossible figures than people who do not have the diagnosis.
An impossible figure is a drawing “suggesting a three-dimensional object that could never exist in our experience.” M. C. Escher is the paradigmatic example of impossible figures.
According to Schneps:
“In one study, we tested professional astrophysicists with and without dyslexia for their abilities to spot the simulated graphical signature in a spectrum characteristic of a black hole. The scientists with dyslexia —perhaps sensitive to the weeds among the flowers— were better at picking out the black holes from the noise, an advantage useful in their careers. Another study in our laboratory compared the abilities of college students with and without dyslexia for memorizing blurry-looking images resembling x-rays. Again, those with dyslexia showed an advantage, an advantage in that can be useful in science or medicine.”
More evidence that we should embrace the concept of neurodiversity.
In my opinion, everyone should be a life long learner. However, this dictum is doubly important for those of us who teach.
Teachers have an obligation to be learners, not only because we need to be aware of new findings and ideas, but also because learning can help us empathize with our students. A point that was brought home to me last night at the Japanese Language Meetup that I attend every few weeks.
At the meetup we read out loud from a book written in the phonetic Hirigana script. I have only recently learned the Hirigana, so my reading is very slow and deliberate. At this stage, reading Hirigana places such a demand on my processing skills that I was unable to attend to the meaning of a passage while reading. I joked that I was suffering from a “Japanese induced dyslexia.”
Here is a paper that, by implication, suggests that my comparison was not far fetched.
Over time, I will have to develop what is called automaticity in my decoding of the Hirgana, if I want to be a fluent reader of Japanese.
A paper published in PLOS, reports on a study of 493 schoolchildren between the ages of seven and nine. The researchers took took blood fatty acid profiles of the children and assessed several cognitive and behavioral variables.
“In these healthy UK children with below average reading ability, concentrations of DHA and other Omega-3 LC-PUFA were low relative to adult cardiovascular health recommendations, and directly related to measures of cognition and behavior. These findings require confirmation, but suggest that the benefits from dietary supplementation with Omega-3 LC-PUFA found for ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and related conditions might extend to the general school population.”
One strength of this study was its use of an objective measure of Omega-3. Most previous studies have relied on dietary self report.
Here is a link to Dr. Greger’s videos on omega-3 fatty acids.