Principal Investigator: Nuala Brady
Although usually defined as a learning disorder that is specific to reading, dyslexia reflects natural variations in neurological processing of the visual form of words and their associated sounds. Recent advances in neuroscience show that in learning to read we ‘reuse’ parts of the brain that are initially involved in face and object recognition.
The starting point for our research in this area is the observation that recognition of words and faces present similar challenges to the visual system. Both are made up of parts, features (eyes, nose and mouth) in the case of faces and individual letters in the case of words. Spatial configuration - the specific way in which these parts are arranged – is very important to recognizing individual faces and individual words. Our first study borrows two well-known experimental paradigms from face perception research to study word recognition and shows clear differences in how dyslexic and typical readers utilize configural information (Conway et al., 2017). More recently, and working with Dr Sarah Cooney (UCD) and Professor Fiona Newell (TCD), we show that holistic processing in a faces task predicts differences in reading performance (word and pseudoword accuracy and speed) between dyslexic and typical readers. This research suggests that the factors underlying ‘dyslexia’ are multifactorial, and that broadening our thinking about reading may help de-emphasise dyslexia as a ‘disability’ while furthering our ability to support students for whom reading is challenging.
Conway, A., Brady, N., & Misra, K. (2017). Holistic word processing in dyslexia. PloS one, 12(11), e0187326.
Brady, N., Darmody, K., Newell, F., & Cooney, SM (2020) Holistic processing of words and faces in dyslexia.https://psyarxiv.com/abys2/