In this round of moonshot work, our team’s two best solutions underwent “Rapid Evaluation” by several other groups. As a reminder, our group is striving to answer the question, “How can we detect dyslexia on a behavioral level and treat it biologically at an early stage of life?”. With that being said, our two best solutions were:
1. Carefully craft a diagnostic test for dyslexia that could be administered in elementary schools.
2. Use electrode or drug stimulation in the parts of the brain that should be stimulated in dyslexic patients.
During Rapid Evaluation, we received tons of feedback that helped us narrow down and ultimately rethink our solution. Here’s some of the most influential feedback we received, as well as our responses to it:
“Yes, and…” Feedback
Solution 1- Maybe there’s a way to incorporate the dyslexia test in the eye exam. Maybe there’s a way to create a version of the eye exam that tests dyslexia rather than accuracy of vision.
Response: This is a great idea! It’s definitely a convenient way for people to be tested for dyslexia, as almost all people get their eyes checked. However, a few concerns are that dyslexia exists in blind people too, and we hope to detect dyslexia before children learn how to read (they must be able to read in order to perform this type of eye exam).
Solution 2- Maybe looking at more specific case studies will help you make this fundamental solution more precise.
Response: We are currently in the process of finding literature that supports this method; however, many researchers are still searching for the neural basis of dyslexia. In lieu of this, it is mostly up to our own speculation rather than previous case studies to specify this solution.
Solution 2- Consider how this drug will go about stimulating the brain into working correctly: Will it inhibit the part that’s not working correctly or enhance the part that’s not doing enough?
Response: This is a really great point. As mentioned in our response to the previous piece of feedback, we are still in the process of sifting through literature about exactly where dyslexia comes from in the brain. Once we gain a general understanding or have a rough estimate in mind, we will be able to identify whether we want to inhibit or enhance the brain.
“Yes, but…” Feedback
Solution 1- You may encounter difficulty creating a quick, clear exam that can test for dyslexia and not take too much time.
Response: This is true, however, many tests already exist. We are not so focused on creating an actual test but rather using existing tests to diagnose.
Solution 2- You need to consider that the drug you give doesn’t interact with the drug patients are already receiving for dyslexia.
Response: This is a good thing to consider. Because of the possible conflict of effect of drugs, we may just focus on developing an electrode-based treatment.
Solution 2- This is invasive if you’re going to use an electrode, and parents aren’t too big on putting their kids on drugs.
Response: By “drugs” we mean some sort of medication that would solely be for treating dyslexia. In regards to the invasiveness, we will try our best to find the most optimal way to treat dyslexia at a biological level.
In light of this feedback, we plan to revise our question to “How can we treat dyslexia biologically, and at an early stage of life?”. Given this change, we plan to focus solely on our second solution from here on out. Based on the feedback we received, it seems that both of our solutions require thorough research, resources, and effort to develop. Rather than spreading ourselves thin, we decided to just adopt the second solution, focusing on how to universally treat dyslexia at a biological level, even given its variations such as with the dyslexic blind and dyslexic deaf. After all, it is the brain and biology that unifies these varying types of dyslexia across many patients.