Dyslexia was first diagnosed in Seaford, Sussex, in 1896 as a “case of congenital word blindness” involving a 14-year-old boy called Percy.

A report in the British Medical Journal said that “in spite of this laborious and persistent training, he can only with difficulty spell out words of one syllable”.

“The schoolmaster who taught him for some years says that he would be the smartest lad in the school if the instruction were entirely oral,” it added.

However those with the condition were often dismissed as being “thick” or “lazy” and it was not until the 1970s that the role of language processing was recognised.

Professor Gabrieli said previous research had long laid that misconception to rest.

“I have colleagues who are professors who are dyslexic and who are amazing,” he said.

Dr John Rack, head of research at charity Dyslexia Action, said the researchers had come up with “some interesting findings”.

“What is particularly interesting is that better reading skills in adults and children with dyslexia were associated with greater repetition-induced neural adaptation,” he said.

“We also recognise that these results highlight a dysfunction of rapid neural adaptation as a core neurophysiological difference in dyslexia that may underlie impaired reading development and this new evidence is helping to build an understanding of the differences in brain functions which can ultimately result in a greater understanding of specific reading impairments.

“This is theoretically well-grounded research that is seeking to explain what we know to be the core issues for people with dyslexia: learning to map letters and sounds for the development of fluent reading and spelling skills. Increasing this understanding can help us to tailor our teaching interventions to be even more effective.”

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