Biology of Dyslexia Varies With Culture, Study Finds

Aurolyn Luykx aurolynluykx at
Wed Sep 8 19:39:44 UTC 2004

Good on ya, Ron. I share your "Aaarrgh!" and could add
a couple more -- e.g....

> >A new study suggests that the biology underlying
> reading disorders may also vary by culture. Chinese
speakers who suffer from dyslexia, the study found,
have different brain abnormalities than English
> >speakers who are dyslexic....

Admittedly I haven't read the original study, but
that's not what it seems to suggest to me at all.
Again, a false dichotomy between "nature" (underlying
biology) and "nurture" (writing systems), when really
it's the INTERACTION between these things that is at
issue. It could conceivably be the exact same brain
abnormality in both cases (English and Chinese), but
simply manifested differently because the cognitive
tasks are different for each writing system.

The suggestion that biology varies according to
"culture" is even more worrisome.

> PS: An interesting study, done years ago, gave some
> African-American  kids who were poor readers the
opportunity to read English using  Chinese
characters....  the kids rapidly surpassed their
previous reading scores, suggesting that it was the
English writing system, rather than any  inherent
problem in the children, that had caused their

Recall though that in that case you're not talking
about dyslexic children per se... Certainly alphabetic
systems (non-phonemic ones) present their own
difficulties, especially when kids are taught to read
by "sounding out" words that don't "sound out" in
their dialect.... Still, I'd rather deal with that
than memorize 5,000 characters any day.
On a related topic, a professor of mine once told me
of a study (which I never saw) suggesting that
Japanese speakers process language in the right brain,
as opposed to the left. Anyone out there ever hear of
Aurolyn Luykx


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