There’s an interesting article in Time magazine today about some research that shows dyslexia may show itself differently for speakers of different languages.

The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from Greek and means ‘difficulty with words’. Dyslexia is defined by the British Dyslexia Association as “a specific learning disability which mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills”. Around 1 in 10 children in the UK has dyslexia, to varying degrees of severity, and seems to affect boys more than girls.

It is thought that dyslexia is the result of a phonological disorder, meaning that dyslexics struggle to separate and keep track of specific, individual sounds. In English language learning, where “sounding out” words is important, this is problematic.

Yet, whereas in English readers can use letters to sound words out, pronunciation of specific characters in Chinese languages is dependent on rote memorization, the researchers point out. And knowing which character’s pronunciation to pull up is dependent on a complete understanding of the intricate combination of strokes included in each character. In the analysis of 12 Chinese children with dyslexia, researchers found that, in addition to struggling with phonological processing exercises, the children also had trouble with exercises in which they were asked to judge the dimensions of images, as compared with non-dyslexic children. What’s more, while performing visual identification tasks, brain scans revealed that dyslexics had less activity in the part of the brain associated with visuospatial processing, as compared with non-dyslexics.

Read the full article here.