Adults with dyslexia demonstrate large effects of crowding and detrimental effects of distractors in a visual tilt discrimination task

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that adults with dyslexia (AwD) are disproportionately impacted by close spacing of stimuli and increased numbers of distractors in a visual search task compared to controls [1]. Using an orientation discrimination task, the present study extended these findings to show that even in conditions where target search was not required: (i) AwD had detrimental effects of both crowding and increased numbers of distractors; (ii) AwD had more pronounced difficulty with distractor exclusion in the left visual field and (iii) measures of crowding and distractor exclusion correlated significantly with literacy measures. Furthermore, such difficulties were not accounted for by the presence of covarying symptoms of ADHD in the participant groups. These findings provide further evidence to suggest that the ability to exclude distracting stimuli likely contributes to the reported visual attention difficulties in AwD and to the aetiology of literacy difficulties. The pattern of results is consistent with weaker and asymmetric attention in AwD.

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Cassim, R., Talcott, J. B., & Moores, E. (2014). Adults with dyslexia demonstrate large effects of crowding and detrimental effects of distractors in a visual tilt discrimination task. PLoS ONE, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106191

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