It is a widely held belief that developmental dyslexia (DD) is a phonological disorder in which readers have difficulty associating graphemes with their corresponding phonemes. In contrast, the magnocellular theory of dyslexia assumes that DD is a visual disorder caused by dysfunctional magnocellular neural pathways. The review explores arguments for and against these theories. Recent results have shown that DD is caused by (1) a reduced ability to simultaneously recognize sequences of letters that make up words, (2) longer fixation times required to simultaneously recognize strings of letters, and (3) amplitudes of saccades that do not match the number of simultaneously recognized letters. It was shown that pseudowords that could not be recognized simultaneously were recognized almost without errors when the fixation time was extended. However, there is an individual maximum number of letters that each reader with DD can recognize simultaneously. Findings on the neurobiological basis of temporal summation have shown that a necessary prolongation of fixation times is due to impaired processing mechanisms of the visual system, presumably involving magnocells and parvocells. An area in the mid-fusiform gyrus also appears to play a significant role in the ability to simultaneously recognize words and pseudowords. The results also contradict the assumption that DD is due to a lack of eye movement control. The present research does not support the assumption that DD is caused by a phonological disorder but shows that DD is due to a visual processing dysfunction.
Werth R. Is Developmental Dyslexia Due to a Visual and Not a Phonological Impairment? Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(10):1313. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11101313