Researchers working with the EDA
Establishment of EDA’s Academic Committee Final draft approved at Athens EDA Board meeting 8.4.2017
The EDA has a scientific and educational purpose and is a non-profit-making association. To strengthen and develop the scientific base in the organisation the EDA board is about to establish an Academic Committee (EDA-AC).
The main purpose of the EDA-AC is to provide advice to the EDA board in different scientific matters.
It could be:
- Advising the EDA board in different decisions when qualified scientific knowledge is important.
- Assisting the EDA Editor to publish relevant scientific based reports/research/intervention strategies/links on the website. Resources regarding bridging the gap between research and practise is desirable. Perspectives from different countries is also interesting.
- Advising the EDA board – in matters of organising seminars, conferences, projects and when publishing information brochures
- Suggesting new advances for the EDA
The working language is English.
The composition of the EDA-AC is established by EDA board and reflects a range of key academic areas within the field. These individuals are invited to join the committee in an honorary (unpaid) capacity by the EDA board usually for a three-year term.
The EDA is not covering any costs incurred from the EDA budget.
The Vice Chair of the EDA-AC is reserved for a Director of the EDA board.
The main points of contact with the EDA are the EDA delegate to the EDA-AC and the EDA Editor.
A report from the EDA-AC will be presented to the EDA board at subsequent EDA board meeting by the EDA delegate.
Meet the committee
Learning Disabilities Co-occurrence
Dyslexia and comorbidity
The term dyslexia describes considerable difficulties, presumably of neurodevelopmental origins, in acquiring fluent word reading skills (Snowling, Hulme & Nation, 2020). The inclusion and exclusion criteria for a dyslexia diagnosis have been debated a lot over the years, and currently dyslexia is seldom diagnosed if a person’s poor reading can be better explained by inadequate instruction, intellectual disability, or impairments in hearing or vision. Thus, dyslexic reading problems involve some level of “specificity”. However, this does not mean that individuals diagnosed with dyslexia in all cases do not face other neurodevelopmental challenges. Accumulating evidence suggests that it is quite the opposite, and that many children and adults with dyslexia also meet diagnostic criteria for additional (behaviorally defined) neurodevelopmental disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental language disability, developmental coordination disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. An even larger proportion of individuals with dyslexia show marked traits of one or more of these neurodevelopmental disorders without meeting full diagnostic criteria (Brimo et al., 2021). This has a number of important consequences for dyslexia researchers and practitioners. For instance, it is important:
- to learn more about the underlying (genetic, neurobiological, cognitive) nature of reading problems and whether they differ as a function of such co-occurring/comorbid challenges.
- to learn more about how comorbid problems may affect dyslexic individuals’ coping in different settings. For instance, tolerating frustration and help-seeking is known to be difficult for individuals with ADHD or autism, and might make the dyslexic reading problem more challenging to manage.
- to be mindful about the fact that we often need to take comorbid problems into account when designing and delivering interventions for students with dyslexia
Snowling, M. J., Hulme, C., & Nation, K. (2020). Defining and understanding dyslexia: past, present and future. Oxford Review of Education, 46(4), 501-513.
Brimo, K., Dinkler, L., Gillberg, C., Lichtenstein, P., Lundström, S., & Åsberg Johnels, J. (2021). The co‐occurrence of neurodevelopmental problems in dyslexia. Dyslexia, 27, 277-293.
Cesare Cornoldi and Learning Disabilities Lab
The group, created in 1975 at the University of Padova, has developed several studies, tests and practices, associated with clinical activity at the LABDA, a Centre for Assessment and Intervention on Neurodevelopmental disorders. At the weekly meetings the attendance is typically represented by more than 30 participants: researchers, clinicians and young psychologists in formation.
Some of the most recently developed lines of research are the following:
- Structure of the intelligence in children with a learning disorder
We are analysing the data concerning the administration of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) to large groups of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. In these disorders the structure of intelligence derived from the WISC-IV is different from the structure found in typically developing children. Furthermore the groups with a learning disability (LD) present a typical pattern of performance.
The main results concerning LD are the following:
verbal intelligence (VCI): average or above average (especially in children with dyscalculia)
visuospatial intelligence (PRI): average or above average (especially in children with dyslexia)
verbal working memory (WMI): low
speed of processing (PSI): low
- Nonverbal learning disabilities
We are studying children with school difficulties who present visuospatial deficits and some of the following characteristics: motor coordination problems, relational difficulties, arithmetic failures. Altogether these characteristics are associated with the clinical profile typically called ‘Nonverbal Learning Disability’ (NLD) and may be distinguished from children who only present one of these characteristics as illustrated in the Figure
Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge
New Findings in Dyslexia Research
Speech processing skills are fundamental to the acquisition of literacy, as reading in all languages involves learning a visual code for speech. The Cambridge research shows that children with dyslexia have difficulty in processing rhythm patterns in the speech signal.
- When we speak, we are creating sound waves, moving energy through the air.
- The brain picks up these energy changes, or speech rhythms, by aligning intrinsic brain rhythms to the rhythm patterns in speech.
- We can think of the brain waves surfing the sound waves.
There are important acoustic statistics embedded in these energy patterns, which enable automatic learning of phonology (linguistic sound patterns). These rhythmic statistics are greatly exaggerated in Babytalk. Learning these statistics is an automatic part of language acquisition. However, the Cambridge research shows that:
- A dyslexic brain does not compute the acoustic statistics based on these rhythmic energy patterns as accurately as other brains.
- Some of the electrical rhythms in the dyslexic brain – the brain waves – are out of time.
- We can think of the dyslexic brain waves as poor surfers of sound waves. The dyslexic brain keeps catching the wave too late or too early.
- Consequently, the sound structure of language is encoded differently in dyslexia.
The Cambridge research has shown that infants at genetic risk for dyslexia already show difficulties in processing the rhythm cues that help the brain to “lock on” to the rhythms in speech.
- One way to help infants at risk is to put exaggerated emphasis on the rhythm patterns in speech.
- It is also important to emphasise rhythm and rhyme when learning to read.
- One way to do this is to use the learning App, GraphoGame Rime.
- GraphoGame Rime has proved beneficial to English poor readers in recent studies.
Links to Papers
Dyslexia in adulthood
Professor David McLoughlin, University of Buckingham and Independent Dyslexia Consultants, London.
As an academic, but also a practising psychologist who has an interest in dyslexia as a lifespan condition, I am always concerned that myths are promoted creating unrealistic expectations for many dyslexic people. Yes, there are highly successful, gifted, and talented dyslexic individuals, but I fear that they can be ‘the trees that hide the forest’. Two academic papers published over the last year have therefore caught my eye:
Developmental dyslexia and creativity: A meta-analysis. By Majeed et. al. in Dyslexia 2021. (https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.1677)
The authors considered the results of studies that assessed the creativity of individuals with a clinical diagnosis of dyslexia and those without. They concluded that adults with dyslexia outperformed non-dyslexic people on creativity tests, but that this was not the case for younger children and adolescents. Overall, the findings of their analysis provided limited support for the idea that individuals with dyslexia are more creative, and that past evidence of this relationship might be limited to adults.
It might be, therefore, be that both the negative and positive experiences of schooling lead to dyslexic individuals developing whatever talent they have and become more creative, rather than having an intrinsic propensity towards creative activities. This has been described as the coping compensatory mechanisms hypothesis which proposes that to compensate for reading and writing failures in educational settings earlier in life, individuals with dyslexia develop creative coping mechanisms and modes of thinking in adolescence and adulthood to overcome frustrating obstacles related to academic achievement. Based on this hypothesis individuals with dyslexia seek out opportunities in fields that generally do not place a heavy emphasis on academically valued skills, but which instead involve skills required for subjects such as the visual arts.
No evidence of creative benefits accompanying dyslexia: a meta-analysis. By Erbeli et. al. in Journal of Learning Disabilities. 2021. (https:doi.org/10.1177/00222194211010350).
On the basis of their analysis of 306 studies. They concluded that there is little evidence for a dyslexia enhanced creativity link and highlight the need for school practitioners not to assume that, on average, any superior creativity will be expressed in academic achievement outcomes. They do, however, point out that their results to jot not suggest educators should fail to support and nurture creativity as this runs on a continuum, suggesting that some individuals will be greater creative talents than others, irrespective of whether they have dyslexia.
At present my own academic research involves an analysis of the cognitive and literacy profiles of around 2000 adults assessed over a ten-year period. My colleague Alan Martin and I are analysing their profiles on the basis of their scores for the Wechsler adult intelligence scale (fourth edition). We are also looking at their performance on measures of rapid naming as well as reading accuracy, fluency, comprehension, writing speed and spelling.
Preliminary findings show that, consistent with previous research, dyslexic individuals scored less well on measures of working memory and processing speed, then they did on the Index scores for verbal comprehension and perceptual. Rapid naming is identified as persistent and pervasive processing issue. Most of the adults in the sample had achieved reasonable levels in reading and spelling accuracy, but continued to have difficulty with automatic reading, as well as comprehension. We are hoping that this will form the basis for a book titled Dyslexia and working memory: a practical lifespan perspective.
Developmental Language Disorder