Research Articles

The causal relationship between dyslexia and motion perception reconsidered

Joo, S., Donnelly, P. M., & Yeatman, J. D. (2017). The causal relationship between dyslexia and motion perception reconsidered. Scientific Reports, 7, 4185. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-04471-5

It is well established that visual sensitivity to motion is correlated with reading skills. Yet, the causal relationship between motion sensitivity and reading skills has been debated for more than thirty years. One hypothesis posits that dyslexia is caused by deficits in the motion processing pathway. An alternative hypothesis explains the motion processing deficit observed in dyslexia as the consequence of a lack, or poor quality, of reading experience. Here we used an intensive reading intervention program to test the causal relationship between learning to read and motion processing in children. Our data show that, while the reading intervention enhanced reading abilities, learning to read did not affect motion sensitivity. Motion sensitivity remained stable over the course of the intervention. Furthermore, the motion sensitivity deficit did not negatively impact the learning process. Children with poor motion sensitivity showed the same improvement in reading skills as children with typical motion sensitivity. Our findings call into question the view that motion processing deficits are due to poor reading experience. We propose that the correlation between the two measures arises from other common mechanisms, or that motion processing deficits are among a collection of correlated risk factors for reading difficulties.

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