A Causal Link Between Visual Spatial Attention And Reading Acquisition

A Causal Link Between Visual Spatial Attention And Reading Acquisition

Sandro Franceschini, Simone Gori, Milena Ruffino, Katia Pedrolli, Andrea Facoetti
These authors contributed equally to this work
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.013re on facebook

  • Poor readers show impaired visual search and spatial cueing when prereaders
  • About 60% of poor readers displayed visual-attention deficit when prereaders
  • Visual attention in preschoolers specifically predicts future reading acquisition
  • Efficient visual-attention is crucial for learning to read independently of phonology


Reading is a unique, cognitive human skill crucial to life in modern societies, but, for about 10% of the children, learning to read is extremely difficult. They are affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder called dyslexia [ 1, 2 ]. Although impaired auditory and speech sound processing is widely assumed to characterize dyslexic individuals [ 1–5 ], emerging evidence suggests that dyslexia could arise from a more basic cross-modal letter-to-speech sound integration deficit [ 6–9 ]. Letters have to be precisely selected from irrelevant and cluttering letters [ 10, 11 ] by rapid orienting of visual attention before the correct letter-to-speech sound integration applies [ 12–17 ]. Here we ask whether prereading visual parietal-attention functioning may explain future reading emergence and development. The present 3 year longitudinal study shows that prereading attentional orienting—assessed by serial search performance and spatial cueing facilitation—captures future reading acquisition skills in grades 1 and 2 after controlling for age, nonverbal IQ, speech-sound processing, and nonalphabetic cross-modal mapping. Our findings provide the first evidence that visual spatial attention in preschoolers specifically predicts future reading acquisition, suggesting new approaches for early identification and efficient prevention of dyslexia.

reference: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2812%2900270-9#


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