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The topic of this episode of DNews came to us from Twitter user @razmataz2011, who wanted to understand dyslexia. Dyslexia can be an extremely frustrating learning disability where letters get jumbled up or it gets hard to associate the correct sound with the correct letter so even familiar words become difficult to read. One reason why it can be so frustrating is that there's no "one size fits all" experience: some people have trouble with reading, others have trouble with listening, while some have a bit of both. Either way it can mean they are at a higher risk for falling behind in school. For the past decade, researchers have discovered more about a possible the genetic link behind it. One study published in the journal Neuroscience found that some dyslexics with a deletion of the DCDC2 gene had trouble detecting certain types of visual movement. Other studies published in the same journal found a link between a mutation in the ROBO1 gene which resulted in a weakening of certain auditory pathways that link the two halves of the brain.
And so while it's described as a learning disability, it can perhaps more accurately be described as a neurological condition. Several studies comparing the brains of dyslexic and non-dyslexic individuals found some striking differences. A study published in the journal Biology Psychiatry found that dyslexic individuals have weaker connections in certain parts of the brain like visual centers and in the region between visual center and prefrontal region and in the visual-word area. This would mean that dyslexia is a very visual condition and would explain why it makes reading difficult but not speaking. While many assume dyslexia manifests itself with difficulty reading, some research suggests the underlying deficit lies in the understanding spoken language. A study published in the journal Science found that dyslexics have trouble understanding the differences in the way people talk. In the experiment, researchers had people listen to voices speaking in native of foreign voices. When participants were asked to match the voice to a cartoon. While all the subjects struggled to recognize the foreign language speakers, dyslexic individuals also struggled to recognize speakers of their native language.
Do you have dyslexia or know someone who does? Tell us about it in the comments down below.
Readers with dyslexia have disrupted network connections in the brain, map the circuitry of dyslexia shows (Science Daily)
"Dyslexia, the most commonly diagnosed learning disability in the United States, is a neurological reading disability that occurs when the regions of the brain that process written language don't function normally."
Study shows stronger links between entrepreneurs and dyslexia (New York Times)
"It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play to their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought."