Is dyslexia just a learning disability?

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Science is not neutral. To start from there it must be remembered that what we usually call scientific facts always rest on a certain theoretical basis which is generally not without prejudice. This is particularly the case in health and in the somewhat porous boundaries that separate the normal from the pathological. Throughout this article, we will see that by changing the theoretical framework we can get a radically different view of what our society currently considers a learning disability.

A Brief View of Dyslexia

So far, research has focused only on the lexical difficulties of people with dyslexia. However, several observations indicate that people with dyslexia have above-average abilities in certain nonverbal tasks. The question then arises: is dyslexia only a disorder, or can it be considered otherwise? This is what the authors ask From the article published in frontiers in psychology. To answer their questions, they will again analyze the literature on dyslexia under lens A theoretical framework other than that which is dyslexia in relation to the learning criterion: that cognitive research by arming itself with the “exploitation and exploration” compromise theory and the evolutionary theory of knowledge complementary.

the summary, Exploitation – Exploration Trade-off Theory It is considered at all levels (individual and collective) and in all places (physical and mentally) we are constantly faced with a dilemma between exploiting resources or exploring the environment in search of new opportunities. Consider the typical example of food resources: I must individually or collectively exploit the resources in my environment in order to survive, and for this I must make use of the skills in my memory. But in anticipation of a possible shortage of resources, I should also go explore my environment and before that, I explore my memory to find out where it is best for me to have the best chance of finding other resources. This is a problem that appears in many scientific disciplines including Medical research, information technology or even marketing.

that of complementary cognition confirms that members Ocean They specialize individually in different neurocognitive research strategies. This means that our cognitive faculties (high or low level) are preferentially oriented towards exploitation or exploration. They are described as complementary because if we constantly exploit them or explore them vice versa without ever taking advantage of them, these are not viable strategies. Therefore, according to this theory, we regulate adaptations through issue Cognitive research at the individual level to serve the group. In other words, individual cognition complement each other so that group-level cooperation is optimal and can survive in a changing environment. Having said that, let’s see how the empirical data could lead to a new interpretation of dyslexia.

Dyslexia: Perception in Explorer Mode

The researchers’ analysis suggests that the cognitive research capacity of people with dyslexia may be specialized for exploration and they have many empirical arguments to support their hypothesis.

  • Visual and auditory abilities

On visual tasks, dyslexic people are faster to see the error globally than non-dyslexic people. in this famous lithography By Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, locally coherent but globally unrealistic, dyslexic people will be much faster than others to understand that a waterfall is impossible. This indicates that he immediately focused on the overall coherence of the drawing rather than fixing the local aspects of it. However, they tend to explore rather than exploit the information presented to them.

A few studies have been done comparing certain auditory tasks between people with and without dyslexia. One of the few studies available on this topic indicates that during an auditory task consisting of listening to a speech, the two groups perform similarly when there is no confusion or slight non-verbal noise. On the other hand, the performance of people with dyslexia breaks down when discussions are added in the background of the speech. This indicates that knowledge It fails to discredit peripheral debates. This would be consistent with the Exploration major.

  • memory capacities

With regard to memory, the exploration and exploitation compromise theoretical framework can explain the difficulties in terms of procedural memory. Procedural memory is the long-term retention of unconscious knowledge that automates tasks. It is the root of the achievement of the majority of sequential motor and cognitive skills (cycling, To play a piece of music or learning to read) and basically allows the use of information. In individuals with dyslexia, the ability to automate tasks is generally reduced. However, the counterpart to this is that they retain a declarative awareness of the process of what they are learning. In other words, they will certainly find it more difficult to automate, but they will be able to direct the group towards learning new and more effective ways of carrying out a task in which the person who specializes in exploitation tends to maintain their cognitive habits.

According to some theories of encoding memory information (memory related), we store information in two different parts: base and literal (this theory is called fuzzy tracking theory and I already told you about it in This article). Literal is the exact information that a person has given us ready for use, while basic is very partial information that can be used in different contexts to guide intuition and enhance exploration. People with dyslexia appear to have better ability than others to remember the basics. This is especially highlighted in experiments where researchers ask participants to remember a sentence: People with dyslexia use more synonyms than others to succeed in a task. Where most people are content with exploiting the information given to them, people with dyslexia, starting with the basic data of the problem, that is, the semantics of the word used, explore in their memory to find a solution, which is synonymous.

Next to memory Declarative memory that is divided into two parts (semantic memory which relates to primary facts and episodic memory which relates to contextual items associated with these facts), dyslexic people will be more efficient at using episodic memory, always in a similar logic: raw knowledge is generally a matter of exploitation while context And the various information it contains will facilitate exploration. In the same way, this reasoning also explains why individuals with dyslexia perform poorly in relation to working memory.

People with dyslexia also have an idea that is characterized by bifurcation, that is, they have the ability to think outside the restrictive frameworks that were provided to them at first glance. This allows them to generate new ideas, new frameworks for thinking, and connect the elements of knowledge probably away from each other, to get off the beaten path more easily than others. This is an asset in terms of creativity or Precision Problems that do not yet have clear solutions.

The social implications of this model

It should be noted that all these differences are not systematic and their degree may vary. It is therefore possible that a person with dyslexia does not possess certain abilities described or is not as comfortable with exploration as it is claimed. However, the empirical data analyzed by the researchers suggest that there are good reasons to continue exploring this previously under-researched field.

What would the educational implications be if dyslexia as a cognitive discipline became the dominant view? The authors develop this point briefly in their article. They begin by noting that the current reliance on reading and writing for learning and communication presents problems for people whose cognitive abilities prefer exploration. The education system, for the most part, leaves little room for exploration and preferentially focuses on the acquisition of knowledge. In this case, it is not surprising, in the authors’ view, that people with an exploratory style of cognition have difficulty in academic settings. Activities that are mainly developed there and assessments of knowledge highlight the “weakness” of cognition. At the same time, little time is given to allow them to express and develop their strengths, which can eventually lead to frustration, stress and anxiety.

According to the authors, the education system should gradually leave more room for exploration. This does not mean leaving aside exploitation, but a balance must be found. Above all, there are exploratory learning techniques. These are the techniques that are also used in the field of reinforcement learning algorithms. More broadly, the authors suggest that if their theory is correct, there are broader implications for society as a whole. Assuming that human cognition adapts in a complementary manner, combining information from various current cognitive disciplines could create mutually beneficial and synergistic effects. According to them, ” Such collective intelligence could lie at the heart of our species’ extraordinary adaptive capacity. Redesigning education and other cultural systems with this understanding can not only better serve individual achievement and self-esteem, but can also be vital to society as a whole. “.

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