kitchen table math, the sequel: "Sluggish attentional shifting" in dyslexia

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Sluggish attentional shifting" in dyslexia

Have just come across this paper in my travels today:
Apart from their reading difficulties, dyslexic subjects often suffer from a variety of subtle sensory and motor deficits.Whether these deficits have a causal relationship to the reading disorder, form additional risk factors, or are totally independent of the reading problem, is under vivid debate. In this article, we review the evidence and suggest that ‘sluggish attentional shifting’ (SAS) can account for the impaired processing of rapid stimulus sequences in dyslexia. Within this novel framework attention-related prolongation of input chunks is decisive for many small deficits found in dyslexic subjects.

Impaired processing of rapid stimulus sequences in dyslexia
Riitta Hari and Hanna Renvall
TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences Vol.5 No.12 December 2001
For years now I've been hoping to find time to dig into the literature on dyslexia.

One of these days.

Hari & Renvall open with an arresting observation by Scott Adams:
‘It might seem impossible for you to convey that time doesn’t always march in one direction, bringing with it a perfectly ordered sequence of causes and effects, but it is not hard for me to imagine it, because I’m dyslexic. When I hear a phone number spoken quickly, I hear all the numbers but don’t have any impression in what order they were spoken. It’s as if they came in all at once.’
Scott Adams in The Dilbert Future (2000), Boxtree, p. 233.
The authors remark that:
This description from the famous cartoonist fits nicely with findings on dyslexic adults who seem to have a prolonged ‘cognitive window’ (or ‘time or input chunk’1) within which the temporal order of successive items is easily confused 2–4.


allison said...

Can you actually find an unencumbered version of this paper so we could read?

once upon a time i posited here on KTM that an interesting cog sci research program would be to establish if the reason phonics leads to reading is because the base language acquisition on human brains is through the auditory input. We learn to hear language and what words mean first aurally. So phonics leads to reading by reading out loud, which maps to the cognitive knowledge of the word. The aural "word shape" IS known, so phonics teaches how to decode the visual symbols into the aural wordshape a child knows. The idiocy of whole language is it tries to bootstrap a visual shape to meaning without hooking into the way the brain acquired the word in the first place!

I wonder here if there is no recognizable aural word shape for people who don't sequence the sound properly.

I would be interested in knowing if this temporal issue is supposed to be in everything or just in auditory stuff, too. It is interesting watching my 2 yr old who has this lack of sequencing right now. Like my prior kids he gets the sequence of syllables wrong for certain words. My eldest used to say "up-I" for iPod. And now my youngest says "bref-sick" for breakfast. I know that all of my attempts to learn Japanese as an adults have been failures because I cannot here at normal-speech rate the difference between sen-ka-ta-si-ma and sen-ta-ka-si-ma. My children outgrow it in English. I just can't remember which came first. I wonder if this is what the brain can capture well in early childhood that makes language acquisition so automatic, and this skill naturally fades with age for many of us.

Glen said...

@Allison, try this: