PADUA, Italy, April 8 (UPI) -- Researchers in Italy said they found a causal connection between early problems with visual attention and a later diagnosis of dyslexia.
Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua in Italy and colleagues Sandro Franceschini, Simone Gori, Milena Ruffino and Katia Pedrolli assessed children before they were taught to read for visual spatial attention -- the ability to filter relevant versus irrelevant information -- through tests that asked them to pick out specific symbols amid distractions.
The children also took tests on syllable identification, verbal short-term memory and rapid color naming. The children were tracked for the next two years for measures of reading, Facoetti said.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, found the test results showed children who initially had trouble with visual attention were also the ones to later struggle in reading.
"Visual attention deficits are surprisingly way more predictive of future reading disorders than are language abilities at the pre-reading stage," Facoetti said in a statement. "Because recent studies show that specific pre-reading programs can improve reading abilities, children at risk for dyslexia could be treated with preventive remediation programs of visual spatial attention before they learn to read."