Abnormal Visual Motion Processing Is Not a Cause of Dyslexia
Developmental dyslexia is a reading disorder, yet deficits also manifest in the magnocellular-dominated dorsal visual system. Uncertainty about whether visual deficits are causal or consequential to reading disability encumbers accurate identification and appropriate treatment of this common learning disability. Using fMRI, we demonstrate in typical readers a relationship between reading ability and activity in area V5/MT during visual motion processing and, as expected, also found lower V5/MT activity for dyslexic children compared to age-matched controls. However, when dyslexics were matched to younger controls on reading ability, no differences emerged, suggesting that weakness in V5/MT may not be causal to dyslexia. To further test for causality, dyslexics underwent a phonological-based reading intervention. Surprisingly, V5/MT activity increased along with intervention-driven reading gains, demonstrating that activity here is mobilized through reading. Our results provide strong evidence that visual magnocellular dysfunction is not causal to dyslexia but may instead be consequential to impoverished reading.