Dyslexic children could one day get carte blanche to spend all day playing video games - it seems it does more to improve their reading ability than many traditional educational programs.
The reason, says the Italian team, is that dyslexia may have more to do with early problems with visual attention, rather than language skills.
"Action video games enhance many aspects of visual attention, mainly improving the extraction of information from the environment," says Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua. "Dyslexic children learned to orient and focus their attention more efficiently to extract the relevant information of a written word more rapidly."
Facoetti's team tested the reading, phonological, and attentional skills of two groups of children with dyslexia, before and after they played action or non-action video games for nine 80-minute sessions. And, they found, the action video gamers were able to read faster without losing accuracy, as well as improving at other tests of attention.
The discovery could give educators a new tool in combating the effects of dyslexia.
"Our study paves the way for new remediation programs, based on scientific results, that can reduce the dyslexia symptoms and even prevent dyslexia when applied to children at risk for dyslexia before they learn to read," says Facoetti.
But, he adds: "These results are very important in order to understand the brain mechanisms underlying dyslexia, but they don't put us in a position to recommend playing video games without any control or supervision." Shame.