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Curr Biol. 2012 May 8;22(9):814-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.013. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

A causal link between visual spatial attention and reading acquisition.

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1
Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Padova 35131, Italy.

Abstract

Reading is a unique, cognitive human skill crucial to life in modern societies, but, for about 10% of the children, learning to read is extremely difficult. They are affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder called dyslexia. Although impaired auditory and speech sound processing is widely assumed to characterize dyslexic individuals, emerging evidence suggests that dyslexia could arise from a more basic cross-modal letter-to-speech sound integration deficit. Letters have to be precisely selected from irrelevant and cluttering letters by rapid orienting of visual attention before the correct letter-to-speech sound integration applies. Here we ask whether prereading visual parietal-attention functioning may explain future reading emergence and development. The present 3 year longitudinal study shows that prereading attentional orienting--assessed by serial search performance and spatial cueing facilitation--captures future reading acquisition skills in grades 1 and 2 after controlling for age, nonverbal IQ, speech-sound processing, and nonalphabetic cross-modal mapping. Our findings provide the first evidence that visual spatial attention in preschoolers specifically predicts future reading acquisition, suggesting new approaches for early identification and efficient prevention of dyslexia.

PMID:
22483940
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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