THURSDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Here's one possible
treatment for dyslexia that kids won't complain about: video
Italian researchers report that they found that children with
the reading disability scored better on tests after they played an
action video game for hours, possibly because their minds
temporarily became more focused.
It's not clear if video games directly improved the dyslexia in
the kids. If it did, no one knows how long the effect might last or
whether the strategy is a better approach than traditional
treatments. In other words, dyslexic children shouldn't necessarily
play a couple of video games and call their reading specialist in
Even if video games do help dyslexic kids, "we are not
suggesting a 'do-it-yourself' training by any means," said study
co-author Andrea Facoetti, an assistant professor with the
Developmental & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of
Padua in Italy. However, Facoetti said, video games could become a
tool for reading teachers who teach kids with dyslexia, a learning
disability that prevents people from properly understanding written
In the study, one group of 10 dyslexic kids played a Wii video
game called Rayman Raving Rabbids for 12 hours over several days
while another group played a video game that didn't focus on
The kids who played the action game improved their reading speed
by as much or more than a dyslexic child normally would in an
intense reading program, Facoetti said.
The video games may train the brain to pay more close attention
and focus on things, Facoetti said.
The findings deserve to be taken seriously, said Guinevere Eden,
director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown
University and a past president of the International Dyslexia
"It's exciting to see an unconventional approach to try to improve the speed or fluency of reading," she said. It's difficult to improve reading comprehension in dyslexic kids because they read slowly, she explained: "By the time they get to the end of the sentence, they can't tell you what it's about."
The difficult therapy to improve dyslexia is another drawback,
she said. "It's hard work, and it's not fun."
If video games help kids with dyslexia read more effectively,
shouldn't dyslexia cases have fallen drastically in recent decades
during the rise of video games? Study co-author Facoetti said the
new research can't answer that question because the children tested
hadn't played video games before.
Eden, who's familiar with the findings, said: "I don't have a
great answer for you, but there are a couple of things: I don't
think we have a good sense of whether dyslexia is going up or down
because the whole definition is variable. What's interesting here
is how it might be that what we think of dyslexia may be changing,
not just because of video games but because of technology in
What's next? Eden said researchers should focus on trying to
understand why video games may improve the symptoms of
While the study showed an association between playing action
video games and improved reading scores among kids with dyslexia,
it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study was released online Feb. 28 in advance of publication
in the March 18 print issue of
For more about
dyslexiaand other learning disorders, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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