Dyslexia is characterised by poor reading ability. Its aetiology is probably multifactorial, with abnormal visual processing playing an important role. Among adults with normal reading ability, there is a larger representation of central visual field in the primary visual cortex (V1) in those with more efficient visuospatial attention. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that poor reading ability in school-aged children (17 children with dyslexia, 14 control children with normal reading ability) is associated with deficits in visuospatial attention using a visual search task. We corroborated the psychophysical findings with neuroimaging, by measuring the functional size of V1 in response to a central 12° visual stimulus. Consistent with other literature, visual search was impaired and less efficient in the dyslexic children, particularly with more distractor elements in the search array (p = 0.04). We also found atypical interhemispheric asymmetry in functional V1 size in the dyslexia group (p = 0.02). Reading impaired children showed poorer visual search efficiency (p = 0.01), needing more time per unit distractor (higher ms/item). Reading ability was also correlated with V1 size asymmetry (p = 0.03), such that poorer readers showed less left hemisphere bias relative to the right hemisphere. Our findings support the view that dyslexic children have abnormal visuospatial attention and interhemispheric V1 asymmetry, relative to chronological age-matched peers, and that these factors may contribute to inter-individual variation in reading performance in children.
|Publication status||Published - 14 May 2021|