The role of visual crowding in developmental dyslexia
Project Leader: Magdalena Łuniewska-Etenkowska, Ph.D.
Grant PRELUDIUM (2016/21/N/HS6/02452, Nencki Institute)


Research shows that it is much more difficult to recognize an object surrounded by similar items than the same object standing alone. For instance, it is relatively more demanding to recognize the letter P in a letter string such as TRPHB than a single letter P. This phenomena is known as visual crowding effect.

Dealing with crowded items seems especially difficult for people suffering from impairment of reading: developmental dyslexia. There are some theories claiming that it is inability to cope with crowded letters that lays the foundations for developmental dyslexia. According to these theories, dyslexics would read as good as other people, if only the letters surrounding the read words were not disturbing them. This theory is supported by experiments showing that e x t r a - l a r g e   i n t e r - l e t t e r   s p a c i n g   m a k e s   i t   e a s i e r   t o   r e a d, for both dyslexic children and adults. 

In the current project we would like to check how visual crowding affects reading in Polish typically developing and dyslexic children. We assume that increased spacing will boost reading in dyslexic children – it will make them reading similarly to their typically developing peers. In our study, we will also register eye movements during reading, as dyslexics tend to move their eyes in other ways than typical readers. We will check, if and how increased spacing affects eye movements of both dyslexic and typically developing children.