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James Ferwerda, Brendan Rehon; MagnoFly: game-based screening for dyslexia. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):520. doi: 10.1167/7.9.520.
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Dyslexia is a complex reading disorder that affects approximately five percent of the population. Recent research suggests that deficits in the motion sensitive magnocellular pathways of the visual system may play an important role in some forms of the problem [Stein & Walsh '97, Pammer & Wheatly '01, Talcott et al. '02]. Evaluating magnocellular motion sensitivity in young children could help identify those at risk for developing dyslexia, however existing psychophysical tests of motion perception are time consuming, boring, and difficult to administer, especially to children. To address this issue we have developed a computer game called MagnoFly that measures a player's magnocellular function using motion coherence patterns. In the game, the player's task is to protect babies from swarms of flies with bug spray. Initially the swarms move randomly, but over time one swarm begins to move coherently toward a baby. The player gains points by spraying the aggressive swarm, but loses points by spraying indiscriminately. Over the course of the game a background process varies the coherence of swarm motion, and thereby measures the player's magnocellular motion threshold. At the end of the game, a report is generated to allow specialists to review individual results and determine if further evaluation for dyslexia is indicated. This work demonstrates the potential for using computer games as an enjoyable and effective platform for vision testing.
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