Hemispheric, attentional, and processing speed factors in the treatment of developmental dyslexia

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Abstract

Aim of the study is to analyze the contributions of hemispheric, attentional, and processing speed factors to the effects of neuropsychological treatment of developmental dyslexia. Four groups of dyslexic children (M-type dyslexia) were treated over a period of four months. A first group (n=9) underwent Bakker's Hemisphere-Specific Stimulation, with presentation of words in the right and left visual field. A second group (n=7) received the same stimuli randomly in either visual hemifield. A third group (n=8) received the same words presented centrally at fixation point. A fourth group (n=6) received central stimuli with fixed presentation time (1500 ms). The children were tested before and after treatment on reading and spelling measures. All groups improved significantly after treatment on all variables. However, the group that was treated with centrally presented stimuli improved more than the other groups in spelling measures. A possible explanation is that rapid, simultaneous presentation to both hemispheres enhances interhemispheric exchange, which could produce an advantage in tasks requiring a high degree of integration between left and right hemispheric functions, such as spelling. The absence of significant differences in reading improvement may point to the role of memory functions or strategic factors characterizing all the treatment programs, possibly overweighing the effect of the other factors.

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