Multiple Causal Links Between Magnocellular–Dorsal Pathway Deficit and Developmental Dyslexia

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Although impaired auditory–phonological processing is the most popular explanation of developmental dyslexia (DD), the literature shows that the combination of several causes rather than a single factor contributes to DD. Functioning of the visual magnocellular–dorsal (MD) pathway, which plays a key role in motion perception, is a much debated, but heavily suspected factor contributing to DD. Here, we employ a comprehensive approach that incorporates all the accepted methods required to test the relationship between the MD pathway dysfunction and DD. The results of 4 experiments show that (1) Motion perception is impaired in children with dyslexia in comparison both with age-match and with reading-level controls; (2) pre-reading visual motion perception—independently from auditory–phonological skill—predicts future reading development, and (3) targeted MD trainings—not involving any auditory–phonological stimulation—leads to improved reading skill in children and adults with DD. Our findings demonstrate, for the first time, a causal relationship between MD deficits and DD, virtually closing a 30-year long debate. Since MD dysfunction can be diagnosed much earlier than reading and language disorders, our findings pave the way for low resource-intensive, early prevention programs that could drastically reduce the incidence of DD.

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