Developmental dyslexia is necessary for human adaptive success, the study says

Researchers in Cambridge studied cognition, behavior, and the brain and concluded that people with dyslexia specialize in the study of the unknown. This can play a key role in a person’s adaptation to a changing environment.

They think that this “research nonsense” has an evolutionary basis and plays a decisive role in our lives.

Based on these findings, which can be seen at all levels of analysis, from vision to memory, the researchers argue that we need to change our view of dyslexia as a neurological disease.

The findings, published today in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, have a personal and social impact, says Dr. Helen Taylor, a lead author and researcher at the McDonald’s Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. Strathclyde University.

“A deficit-based approach to dyslexia doesn’t tell the whole story,” Taylor said. “This study offers a new framework to help people with dyslexia better understand their cognitive strengths.”

He added: “The difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia stem from the cognitive trade between the study of new information and the exploitation of existing knowledge, the advantage of which is the direction of exploration that explains improved skills observed in certain areas, such as discovery, invention and creativity.”

This is the first time that a disciplinary approach using an evolutionary approach has been used to analyze research on dyslexia.

“Schools, academic institutions and workplaces are not designed to make the most of research. But we need to start developing this way of thinking to allow humanity to adapt quickly and solve key problems, ”Taylor said.

Dyslexia affects up to 20% of the population, regardless of country, culture or region. This is defined by the World Federation of Neurology as “a disorder of children who, despite normal classroom experience, is unable to acquire reading, writing, and spelling skills according to their intellectual abilities.”

The new findings are explained in the context of “complementary cognition,” a theory that our ancestors evolved to specialize in different but complementary ways of thinking that increase a person’s ability to adapt through collaboration.

These cognitive specialties are based on a certain trade-off between the study of new information and the exploitation of existing knowledge. For example, if you eat all the food you have, you run the risk of going hungry when everything is gone. But if you spend all your time looking for food, you are wasting energy. As with any complex system, we need to balance the need to exploit new resources and explore new resources for survival.

“Keeping a balance between looking for new opportunities and taking advantage of certain choices is the key to adaptation and survival, and it forms the basis of many of the decisions we make in our daily lives,” Taylor said.

Exploration includes activities that involve searching for the unknown, such as experimentation, discovery, and innovation. And exploitation involves the use of things that are already known, including precision, efficiency, and selection.

“Given this trade-off, the research specialty of people with dyslexia can help explain why they have difficulty performing maintenance-related tasks such as reading and writing.

“It can also explain why people with dyslexia are drawn to certain professions that require exploration skills, such as art, architecture, engineering and entrepreneurship.”

Researchers have found that their findings are consistent with evidence from several other areas of research. For example, the research trend in such a large part of the population shows that our species must have evolved during periods of high uncertainty and change. This competition with paleoarchaeological findings reveals that human evolution was shaped by extreme climatic and environmental instability over hundreds of thousands of years.

Researchers point out that the collaboration of individuals with different abilities can help explain our species’ unique ability to adapt.

The study was published today in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The study was funded by the Hunter Business Center at the University of Strathclyde.

A link

Taylor, H. and Vestergaard M. D: “Developmental Dyslexia: Disorder or Exploration Specialty?” Boundaries in Psychology (June, 2022). DOI:


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