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Matthew H. Schneps, James Brockmole, Amanda Heffner-Wong, Marc Pomplun, Alex D. Hwang, Gerhard Sonnert; The Role of Gist in Dyslexia. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1134. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1134.
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Dyslexia, a neurological condition that impairs reading, has been associated with advantages for rapid processing in the peripheral visual field (Geiger and Lettvin, 1987; Facoetti, et al, 2000; von Karolyi, et al 2003; Schneps, et al, 2010, in preparation) suggesting enhanced sensitivity to visual gist (Oliva, 2005) in this group. Sensitivities to peripheral gist might be expected to contribute to spatial learning, and Howard et al., (2006) and Schneps, et al., (2010) used the contextual cueing (CC) paradigm of Chun & Jiang (1998) to measure this in those with dyslexia. They found that while people with dyslexia are initially slower than controls at visual search, they are able to effectively improve the efficiency of their search through spatial learning, so that the search times of those with dyslexia become comparable to the controls. Spatial learning in the traditional CC task is dictated by the configuration of cues nearest the target (Brady & Chun, 2005), making scant use of peripheral gist. However, if the task is modified to provide stronger peripheral cues in the gist, we might expect those with dyslexia can outperform controls on searches involving learned configurations. To test this hypothesis, we compared a group of college students with dyslexia against controls using three variants of the CC task: (1) a traditional CC paradigm using L shapes for cues; (2) a variant using realistic scenes for cues (Brockmole & Henderson, 2006); and (3) a new task that uses a context defined by low spatial frequency gist. Our hypothesis is that spatial learning will improve in those with dyslexia compared to controls as the role of gist successively increased in each task. Here, we report preliminary findings from this study.
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