Reading disability and enhanced dynamic spatial reasoning: A review of the literature

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Abstract

Previous research on reading disabilities (RD) has primarily focused on the cause and expression of the disability. The vast majority of this research has focused on the disorder itself, although it has been proposed that RD embodies other qualities not necessarily related to language or reading deficits. In fact, strengths in nonverbal processing and visual-spatial talents have been proposed to exist in persons with RD. However, the limited empirical data on this matter have yielded inconsistent results. The purpose of this review was to examine this literature, focusing on research concerning dynamic and complex spatial processing or reasoning in people with dyslexia. Our review suggests that there is little evidence in support of a spatial advantage in people with dyslexia, and, in fact, the data show that RD samples most often perform worse or equal to non-RD samples. An exception to this general conclusion may be performance on holistic visualization of complex figures, where RD samples have consistently demonstrated faster response times even though accuracy rates often do not exceed that of controls. The possibility of a unique spatial processing neurology that develops through right-left hemisphere interactions in persons with RD is discussed based on preliminary fMRI data.

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