What Musicians Can Tell Us About Dyslexia and the Brain

by Rachel Baker on March 12, 2014

This is a great article about a small study of musicians with dyslexia and how their brain worked to deal with different auditory tests. Its interesting because understanding the rare dyslexic musician may help to understand the brain and help develop techniques for overcoming dyslexic challenges.

Dyslexia is a frustrating disorder that gives otherwise smart people trouble with reading. Nobody knows exactly what causes it, but one popular hypothesis is that the root of the problem is a deficit in the brain’s ability to process sounds, especially during childhood. Kids who have a hard time parsing all those talky sounds that grownups make also struggle to learn the connections between speech sounds and words on a page. And that’s what causes the reading difficulties, or so the thinking goes.

But if parsing sounds is really the whole problem, how do you explain dyslexic musicians? After all, musicians are supposed to excel at making sense of sound. But a small number of them, it turns out, have dyslexia. Now, a team of researchers at Hebrew University in Israel has tried to sort this problem out–by rounding up, for the first time, a cohort of dyslexic musicians and testing their language abilities.

The researchers, led by psychologist Merav Ahissar, tested 52 musicians on basic auditory perception (such as their ability to tell similar tones or similar time intervals apart) as well as auditory perception related specifically to music (distinguishing different rhythms or melody) or language (like the ability to discriminate words from similar-sounding non-words they heard). They also gave the musicians memory tests and tested their reading speed and accuracy.

Check out the remainder of the article here:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/02/dyslexic-musicians/

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