HomearticleThe Brain and Dyslexia – Auditory or Visual Centers?

Although dyslexia was originally called “Word Blindness”, it has nothing to do with how well a person can see.

Somehow, I don’t think these make words pop
off the page or help with dyslexia.
By Snaily (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons

I have nearly perfect vision, but my dyslexia is still undeniable.

However, the underlying mechanisms usually point to how our brains process visual information, which is why digits look backwards to us and why words appear to jumble.

Today, though, this article popped up in my Google alerts. The article states that auditory processing, rather than visual, is the primary trigger to dyslexia.

In many cases, this does make sense, since so many dyslexics also struggle to function in the presence of background noise. This includes yours truly.

Especially today. Honestly, I’m inches away from smacking my head into the wall at the moment.


This does make sense, though. Think about how a child is first taught how to read.

Often, they’re shown a short word, like “dog” and told to repeat the word. As they get the basics down, more complicated words are addressed.

When that child either can’t understand what their teacher is saying, how can they associate what the weird markings on paper mean?

I’m sure waking up repeatedly to the sound of a crying baby
doesn’t help with dyslexia, either.
Honoré Daumier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This may also help explain why dyslexic kids do so much better when given a radio receiver through which they hear their teacher’s voice. That maddening background noise is dramatically reduced, and the student is allowed to concentrate on what they need to learn.

The article goes more in depth to the theory.

Although it makes sense in a lot of ways, I still don’t fully understand the visual element or the difficulty between left and right in regards to the theory. Maybe I just need to do some more research on it.

It’s worth a glance over, at least. I especially like how the author acknowledged that each individual must be treated differently. No two dyslexics are alike, after all.

In other news, I took a trip to the library today and picked up The Gift of Dyslexia. Once I get through it, I’ll post a review.

It’ll be a unique experience, since I’ll be reading The Tommyknockers by Stephen King at the same time


The Brain and Dyslexia – Auditory or Visual Centers? — 4 Comments

  1. There is no reason to try to nail down one specific cause. Neurodiversity is reality, and embracing that truth will help more people. Address each dyslexic as an individual, and pursue the therapies and training that are most helpful for that person. For a person with dyseidetic dyslexia, there may not be any sound-related issues at all. Our son's issues were all visual, and he was helped tremendously by vision therapy specifically for visual processing. Some will benefit from therapy for auditory processing and phonics-intensive training. All the phonics training in the world will not help a person whose brain is not processing/encoding/retrieving visual symbols. All the visual training in the world will not help a person whose brain doesn't process the sounds associated with phonics. And some people may benefit from all of these approaches. These elephants need to be "eaten" one bite at a time – but they are not identical elephants.

  2. I agree insofar as not all dyslexics function the same, or need the same compensation.

    Of course the section in which I stated that was cut off somewhere in the publishing process. I just fixed it.

    However, there is value in figuring out the mechanisms behind the various forms of dyslexia. I don't say that because I'm trying to generalize the disorder, but because if a specialist can get closer to what's behind the student's difficulty, they can suggest compensations that will work the first time. That, in turn, will save much frustration for everyone.

    I also agree that when dealing with the broader public, that neurodiversity must be addressed as a reality. That goes for all forms of neurology as well, not just dyslexia.

  3. About 90 % of dyslexics have auditory processing problems and may also have other additional problems such as executive function or poor short term memory to complicate an easy understanding of their difficulties.

    About 10% of dyslexics have visual dyslexia and can generally describe visual problems that make reading difficult. Being unable to see all the parts of letters or all the letters in the words and having to guess what they are as if playing an unending game of Wheel of Fortune or having the text jump around are common visual dyslexia problems that make reading difficult along with a long laundry list of other visual problems.

    Listening with headphones is not likely to help visual problems and visual dyslexia glasses are not useful for auditory processing problems.

    My niche is visual dyslexia and I developed See Right Dyslexia Glasses that remove described visual problems that make reading difficult for visual dyslexics. I specifically use the phrase " described visual problems " because it sorts out the 90% of dyslexics who don't have visual problems and it is hard to argue that dyslexics who can describe visual problems don't have visual issues that need correcting.

    If you did want to generalize the mechanisms I would say that auditory processing problems are due to having a poor noise filter ( hence the advantage of using headphones ) and visual dyslexia is due to having a poor visual noise filter ( think of TV snow as one example of visual noise and how it might make reading the credits difficult.) If you are interested in understanding how visual noise is generated in the eye by autofluorescent proteins at specific wavelengths of light and how filtering out all those specific wavelengths remove the visual noise to remove the visual problems you can visit my website at dyslexiaglasses.com.

  4. That does make a lot of sense.

    I have a mixture of both problems, though the visual aspect only tends to crop up when I'm tired, sick or stressed and the text is very small. Oh, some fluorescent lights are a nasty culprit, too. Those suckers also trigger migraines if I'm under them for too long.

    You have a very interesting site! It's very well researched, and your layout is great. I've read about Irlen lenses before and witnessed some of the early testing back when I was still in primary school.

    I've bookmarked your page to read some more of what you have there. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment!

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