New research headed by Sandro Franceschini and Andrea Facoetti examines whether the focus employed while playing action video games can improve the focus and reading ability of dyslexic children. To test this, they took 40 children that never played video games and had them play 12 hours of Rayman Raving Rabbids over two weeks. Half the children played only action minigames, while the other half played non-action minigames.
They found that playing action video games increased the reading ability of dyslexic children the equivalent of a years worth of schooling! Not only that, but the effect lasted for two months after the subjects stopped playing the game.
The authors suggest that the action video games improved the children’s reading ability by enhancing their ability to focus; a necessity to successfully play fast-paced video games. More work needs to be done, but can you imagine a more fun way for kids to combat dyslexia?
You can read more about the study here:
Franceschini, S., Gori, S., Ruffino, M., Viola, S., Molteni, M., Facoetti, A., 2013. Video games make dyslexic children read better. Curr. Biol., 10.1016/j.cub.2013.1001.1044.
Learning to read is extremely difficult for about 10% of children; they are affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder called dyslexia. The neurocognitive causes of dyslexia are still hotly debated. Dyslexia remediation is far from being fully achieved, and the current treatments demand high levels of resources. Here, we demonstrate that only 12 hr of playing action video games—not involving any direct phonological or orthographic training—drastically improve the reading abilities of children with dyslexia. We tested reading, phonological, and attentional skills in two matched groups of children with dyslexia before and after they played action or nonaction video games for nine sessions of 80 min per day. We found that only playing action video games improved children’s reading speed, without any cost in accuracy, more so than 1 year of spontaneous reading development and more than or equal to highly demanding traditional reading treatments. Attentional skills also improved during action video game training. It has been demonstrated that action video games efficiently improve attention abilities; our results showed that this attention improvement can directly translate into better reading abilities, providing a new, fast, fun remediation of dyslexia that has theoretical relevance in unveiling the causal role of attention in reading acquisition.
Here is a link to the journal and abstract. The pdf requires a subscription. Contact me if you’d like more information on the paper.