Author(s): Liddle E, Jackson G, Jackson S
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Abstract A prototype of a biofeedback system designed to treat dyslexia by improving heart-rate variability was evaluated in a single blind study of dyslexic adults. Treatment consisted of four 15 minute exposures to a visual display synchronized with either the participant's own cardiac cycle (intervention condition), or of a synthesized cardiac cycle (placebo condition). Repeated measures were made of picture naming speed, single word reading speed and accuracy, copying speed, heart-rate variability and performance on a lateralized visual temporal order judgement task. Small but significant improvements were found in reading and naming speed in the treatment group relative to the placebo group. No significant improvements were found in unspeeded reading measures. Results from heart-rate measures indicated that treatment had effected a shift in the ratio between parameters reflecting the influence of the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous systems (ANS), respectively, in favour of the parasympathetic. In the temporal order judgement task, participants who received treatment showed a reduced level of overall improvement relative to that seen in those who received placebo, coupled with evidence of a shift in visual attention from left to right hemifield in their pattern of performance. The results are interpreted as indicating that the treatment induces a shift in autonomic balance in favour of the parasympathetic ANS, and that this shift is also reflected in increased efficiency of left cerebral hemisphere circuits implicated in the perceptual-motor processes required for naming and reading fluency. Conversely, it is also reflected in lower spatial awareness of peripheral visual stimuli, particularly those presented to left hemifield.
This article was published in Dyslexia
and referenced in Journal of Computer Science & Systems Biology