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What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
By comparing brain scans between people who have dyslexia and those who aren’t, scientists can narrow down on the areas of the brain affected by the learning disability. In turn, other professionals, such as teachers and psychologists, can develop better treatment plans. Shutterstock.

Paula Tallal Conducted Another Study Focusing on fMRI Technology

Paula Tallal, Ph.D., at Rutgers University, is known as a pioneer in research when it comes to the dyslexic brain. She is a psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist who has started to focus on this topic and continues to use new and improved technology to give more support to her thesis and build on her previous studies.

Using fMRI, Tallal found that those with dyslexia have decreased activity in the brain’s language critical left the temporoparietal region during phonological processing. That is one reason that they struggle with sound, sounding out words, and reading. Similar studies also showed that children with dyslexia didn’t show activation in the left prefrontal cortex when distinguishing between rapid and slow acoustic stimuli compared to children without the learning disability. By focusing on these factors, researchers and doctors can start to further narrow in on treatment plans, and teachers can gain a better idea of how to help their students in the classroom. 

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Video games are proven to help dyslexic improve their reading skills through several studies. However, other studies still need to show this result further to help build a solid foundation for treatment. Shutterstock.

Another Study Proves that Action Games Might Improve Reading Skills

It’s important to note that scientific studies need to be repeated to prove their results. For instance, study A can conclude that video games improve reading skills, but this doesn’t mean that they are as credible as studies replicated several times. Therefore, researchers from study A will continue with new research, or other scientists will conduct study B to see if they get the same results. Once several studies replicate similar results, the thesis has a solid foundation of support. 

One study that further supports video games is helpful to the dyslexic mind who received publication in Current Biology. The co-author of the study, Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua in Italy, concluded with her team that video games that focus on action content help improve reading skills in people with dyslexia. She states that action video games enhance many aspects of visual attention, mainly improving the extraction of information from the environment. Dyslexic children learned to orient and focus their attention more efficiently to extract the relevant information of a written word more rapidly.”

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Many researchers believe that it doesn’t matter how old you are, by using video games, you can improve your reading and writing skills if you have dyslexia. Shutterstock.

The Study Focused on Improve Attention

When Andrea Facoetti from the University of Padua in Italy and her team started researching dyslexia and how video games influenced their learning, they believed they could prove that video games would help – and they did. For this study, they had children diagnosed with the learning disability play nine 80-minute sessions of video games over time. They also tested their reading skills before and after playing the games to understand better and see a difference. To further improve the study, the researchers then compared the results to non-game players. 

Facoetti states that the study results showed that the children who played video games read faster and more accurately than the children who didn’t play. She further believes that because the children who played showed more attention to their task than the children who didn’t, they could learn to focus more on their reading, and this would help improve their reading skills and spelling and writing. 

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Scientists have focused on brain imagery and academic testing to notice the differences between dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains during several studies. Shutterstock.

Tallal Looked Into Rewiring the Brain Through Studies

Paula Tallal, Ph.D., at Rutgers University, decided to further her previous studies by looking into how video games could “rewire” the brain to improve reading and writing skills in people with dyslexia. To do this, she teamed with neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, who could further research the research through previous research and study he conducted. After building a team of researchers, they decided to focus on video games, brain imaging, and testing to notice changes in reading, writing, and other academic skills. 

The study focused on neuroplasticity-based computerized video games that many believe are known to help rewire dyslexic brains. The study showed that computer games active the areas of the brain critical to reading skills. The researchers concluded that with intensive remedial training, dyslexic brains would start to function more like those who don’t have dyslexia. 

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Studies that focus on the Fast ForWord program show that children who use this program a couple of times a week will improve their reading and writing skills. Shutterstock.

Fast ForWord Is a Great Game to Help Dyslexics

One video training program that many researchers focused on in their studies is known as Fast ForWard. In fact, it’s supported by over 30 years of multilevel research, which includes over 300 research studies conducted using scientific learning software to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. The studies show that the program provides intensive, highly individualized cross-training across a large number of attention, processing, cognitive, linguistic, and reading skills, all of which are vital for academic success.

One example of the program’s effectiveness looks at similar words, such as “ba” and pa,” which is hard for dyslexic brains to understand when it comes to distinguishing the sounds. The child will master the task in the game through earning points when they identify the correct sounds. Once learned, the game adjusts its playing level, so the child is challenged on a more advanced level the next day, all while being monitored via the Internet by a professional. There are other games in the program that will help with speed when it comes to brain processing and help children with English grammar. 

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Other studies show that action and fast-paced games are even more beneficial for people who have dyslexia; it helps them improve several skills that are needed for writing and reading. Shutterstock.

Are Fast-Paced Games Better Than Others

One of the newest research areas is looking at if action and other types of fast-paced games are better when it comes to improving reading, writing, and other academic skills of children who have dyslexia. Because this area is newer, there are many studies needed to help build a solid foundation, but so far, it’s looking like action-packed games are a better option. 

Scientists led one of the studies at Oxford University. They concluded that people with dyslexia showed delayed reactions when shifting their attention from sights to sounds. Therefore, fast-paced action video games, rather than games explicitly tailored for language learning, might help people with dyslexia improve reaction times. Another study further proved the researchers at Oxford University stated that action games not only helped enhance attention abilities when it came to the dyslexic brain but also created a ripple effect as it helped improve their reading abilities. 

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
According to several studies, people of any age can help improve their reading and writing skills when they have dyslexia. Shutterstock.

A BCBL Study Shows that Non-Violent Video Games are Better than Violent Ones

A study conducted at BCBL, the Basque research center, showed that action video games helped improve reading ability and visual attention for people with dyslexia. Researchers stated that the main objective you want to focus on is to use the most useful video game elements. These are not focused on violence. You can further help your children improve your cognitive ability by looking at games that are fast-paced and hold action instead of violent games. 

The researchers focused on the difference between violent and non-violent games. Why? They wanted to focus on what specifically helped improve the visual attention and learning processes. It wasn’t clear that it’s all for entertainment, even if the person believes the game is for pure entertainment purposes. It’s because of the coordination and parts of the brain the person needs to use when they’re playing video games. The trouble is that violence can bring in other brain wires and chemicals, which can decrease the parts of the brain that the person needs to focus on to improve their abilities.

What Is Dyslexia and How Video Games Can Help Kids With The Condition
Maybe one day the scientists will rule out any problems, but with some people and their opinion of video games, it doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon. Shutterstock.

The Problems You Can’t Avoid… Yet

No matter how much you support the studies or your stance on video games, they can help people with dyslexia. Follow the guidance of professionals regarding the games and how much time you or your children should spend playing. While most studies focus on about an hour of playtime, this is also dependent on the person as some people. It is especially for young children, won’t have the attention span to play for that period. Some games, such as football and basketball, are non-violent but won’t give people the elements that they need to improve their brain function. 

Another problem is that some people find it hard to get fast-paced games that are not violent for several reasons. First, you or your child might like them; or maybe gaming is newer to you, and you’re just not sure where to look. The best result is to focus on games with elements of surprise and create a sense of fun and excitement. Finally, it’s essential to focus on what you believe and feel. If you notice that your child is playing a specific game and their attention improves, that’s an ideal game. If their reading and writing skills improve, you know you have a good match for your child. 

Sources:

“Dyslexia.” Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic. 

“50 Interesting Facts About Dyslexia.” Angela, Reading Horizons At Home Solutions. 

“8 Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games for Kids.” Sheila Eugenio, Engaget. February 2017. 

“Action video games to fight dyslexia.” Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), Medical Express. December 2015. 

“Undoing Dyslexia via Video Games.” American Psychological Association. April 2014. 

“Video Games May Improve Reading Skills in Dyslexics.” Collthom, Dyslexia Help. March 2013. 

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