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Anonymous 2012c

Created By: Maddy Kim
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Action Video Games and Dyslexia

Can playing Action Video Games (AVG) help to remediate dyslexia and improve reading and attentional skills?

[1] Leading experts in the UK think this is very unlikely but these are exactly the claims made last week in an Italian Study published in the journal Current Biology .

[2] Dyslexia Action's head of research Dr John Rack said: “It would be great if the problems of dyslexia would go away simply by playing the right sort of video games, but this is highly unlikely and the recent Italian Study simply doesn't make the case that it can be done. I am worried if a story like this is picked up and raises false hopes or, worse, serves to undermine the hard work being done using less glamorous methods, I can imagine children in schools and homes across the UK asking why they have to do this reading exercise if it works just as well to play video games. Make no mistake, it doesn't work just as well".

And it's not just Dyslexia Action who think this.

[3] Professor or Developmental Neuropsychology at Oxford University, Dorothy Bishop writes: “It's a classic example of a paper that is on the one hand highly newsworthy, but on the other, methodologically weak. I’m not usually a betting person, but I’d be prepared to put money on the main effect failing to replicate if the study were repeated with improved methodology”.

[4] Professor Charles Hulme from the Psychology Department at University College London says: “Based on my reading I would be hesitant to conclude there is any real effect here. The sample sizes are tiny, and the statistics are inappropriate”.

[5] Dr Rack explains further: "The claimed benefit from the AVGs was obtained in a group of only 10 children with dyslexia and the only benefit to their reading seems to be that they got faster, whilst maintaining the same levels of accuracy. In a follow-up, 6 of these children were tested again and the fact that there was not a significant drop in scores for this group of 6 is taken as evidence that the improvements were sustained. I am really quite shocked that any interpretation is given to this 'null finding' - failure to find a difference with such small numbers is in no way conclusive. Short-term benefit in terms of speed for those who played the Action Games really is no basis to suggest we think again about approaches to remediation, especially since we don’t yet know if that result would stand up in a study using larger groups.

We need to be open to the new possibilities that technology brings, and to new ideas that will help improve on the methods that we already know are effective. But we have to be wary of claims where the enthusiasm for the technologies runs ahead of the data".
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