1. Remind us of your question and your solution

Our (old) Question part 1: How can we detect dyslexia on a behavioral level and treat it biologically at an early stage of life?

  • Old Solution: Our previous solution was two-fold, involving a physical detection of dyslexia and biological treatment. Regarding the former, we planned to craft a diagnostic test that would be administered in elementary schools during mandatory nurse visits. For the latter, we planned to create a type of electrode or drug stimulation that would help target dyslexia in the brain. Before this more-refined solution, some of our other solutions involved a dyslexia specific brain scan or some sort of behavioral testing in school.

Our (old) Question part 2: How can we treat dyslexia biologically, and at an early stage of life?

  • Dyslexia results from the brain not being able to process words. It has nothing to do with visual perception, or how the word is taken into the brain. We know this because dyslexia is present in the blind, whose reading stems from tactile stimulation (Braille). We also know this because dyslexia can be present in signers, who struggle to create letters. Overall, these are just a few of the variations that come with dyslexia. Due to these variations, we know that dyslexia is not caused by a deficit in perception.
  • Thus, we believe that treatment for dyslexia would be most effective if targeted at a biological level. After all, it is the brain and biology that unifies these varying types of dyslexia across many patients.

Old Solution: Focus on biological treatment

  • Angular gyrus: Studies show that this region of the brain contributes to the complexities of reading, specifically visually piecing letters together to form words.
  • Horwitz et al. (1998)
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC21181/
  • Lesions to angular gyrus are tied to alexia
  • Angular gyrus is functionally connected to parts of Wernicke’s area and the visual association areas; alexia/dyslexia may result from functional disconnectivity of these areas
  • Rumsey et al. (1999)
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10550226
  • Blood flow in angular gyrus can predict severity of dyslexia
  • Neural basis/localization of dyslexia may be similar to alexia
  • http://news.mit.edu/2013/brain-scans-may-help-diagnose-dyslexia-0813
  • Alexia and dyslexia have a lot of commonalities. We can look at alexia and apply what we know about its neural basis to dyslexia
  • “Pure alexia is usually caused by an occlusion of distal (posterior) branches of the left posterior cerebral artery.”
  • Starrfelt et al. (2013): “Very generally, the treatment methods used for (pure) alexia can be divided in three groups, depending on which level of the reading process they aim to ameliorate: letter identification, word reading, or text reading. This relates to the mechanism by which one aims to achieve improvement: top-down or bottom-up processing. Bottom-up treatments aim to increase or strengthen the signal extracted from the stimulus (i.e., from letters and words), for instance by using several modalities to identify individual letters. This extra input is thought to make letter identification easier by increasing the signal to noise ratio in the input (bottom-up) signal. Top-down therapies, on the other hand, aim to aid recognition by providing context information (e.g., top-down signals from semantics) to reduce the “noise”. In general, one may expect different degrees of generalisation depending on what type of processing therapy is aimed at: Bottom-up treatment should improve letter identification itself, and thus improve identification of both trained and untrained words; top-down therapies rely on the presented (con)text and thus may not be expected to generalise to other texts or words to the same degree.”
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3805423/

Our new Question (post talking to expert): How can we treat dyslexia using a multisensory teaching approach within the home?

  • Most of dyslexia treatment is integrated into education (school), but we propose to bring treatment into the home.
  • Issues:
  • how do we decide who gets these crates (typically developing or dyslexic)
  • Cost - who can pay for monthly subscription
  • New Solution (post talking to expert):
  • Create “reading crates” with multi-sensory toys that will provide children with a more nuanced method of learning to read that includes auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic techniques.
  • https://www.kiwico.com
  • Proposed content of a reading crate: taken from https://www.lexiconreadingcenter.org/what-is-multisensory-teaching-techniques/
  • Auditory:
  • Books on tape, peer assisted reading, paired reading and computerized text readers
  • Video or film with accompanying audio
  • Music, song, instruments, speaking, rhymes, chants and language games
  • Tactile:
  • Sand trays, raised line paper, textured objects, finger paints and puzzles to improve fine motor skills
  • Modeling materials such as clay and sculpting materials
  • Using small materials called manipulatives to represent number values to teach math skills
  • Kinesthetic:
  • Games involving jumping rope, clapping or other movements paired with activities while counting and singing songs related to concepts.
  • Any large movement activity for students involving dancing, bean bag tossing or other activities involving concepts, rhythmic recall and academic competition such as quizzes, flash card races and other learning games.

2. Describe at least 3 pieces of feedback (from peers and expert) you received and how it has changed your solution.

  • Peer Feedback:
  • One of our previous solutions involved crafting diagnostic test for elementary schools. Peer feedback pointed to the drawbacks of this solution: someone at the school would have to be able to administer the test, a nurse for example; our test would have to be of an appropriate length to accurately assess the child’s abilities; the issue of access and inequality is also salient. For these reasons, we have chosen to focus on the treatment of dyslexia as opposed to behavioral detection. The concerns over our first solution were politically based (who has access, who will pay, etc.) while the concerns over our second solution (biological treatment of dyslexia) involved pushback from parents and the issue of invasiveness. We prefer to tackle the latter as we feel it will be easier to mitigate.
  • Peer Feedback:
  • Another piece of feedback we received was on our solution that proposed either electrode or drug stimulation in the part of the brain that is affected by dyslexia. People were concerned with the invasiveness and push-back from parents in regards to drugs. We decided that implanting an electrode in a child’s brain is invasive, but we could potentially test this out on patients who already have electrodes implanted in their brains due to other medical conditions, such as epilepsy. Even though the feedback suggested that we would get pushback from parents, we do not think that pushback is reason enough to change our idea. We do think there would be many parents who would be very willing to give their children medicine if it could make them have an easier time reading and understanding.
  • Peer Feedback:
  • With the same solution in mind, we received feedback that there could be individual differences in brain function related to dyslexia. Therefore, we could not really have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution in regards to medicine because everyone’s brain is different. Additionally, being on more than one drug at one time could cause ineffectiveness of both drugs. We discussed that this is not enough of a reason not to try, because this happens in medicine every day.
  • Expert Feedback: Dr. Tanya Evans
  • From our conversation with Dr. Evans, we learned that early diagnosis and intervention are the best ways to mitigate dyslexia. In response to our idea of biologically stimulating brains to improve or treat dyslexia, Dr. Evans informed us that intervention or treatment at a behavioral level is already effective. Thus, it would be of best interest to revise our current solution. In terms of things that are lacking in the treatment of dyslexia, Dr. Evans said that it would be useful if there was a way to use brain scans to detect dyslexia early on. Overall, Dr. Evans conveyed that it would be useful to have a biological way to detect dyslexia and a behavioral way to treat it.