Balancing and pointing tasks in dyslexic and control adults



Developmental dyslexia may affect as much as 15% of the population, but the aetiology of the disorder is still being debated. The cerebellar theory of dyslexia proposes that cerebellar dysfunction could lead to the myriad of symptoms seen in dyslexic individuals, both in literacy and non-literacy domains. The cerebellum is crucial to the fluent performance of motor skills. Previous studies have found that dyslexic children are worse than control children on certain motor and balancing tasks. Here the performance of 28 dyslexic compared to 26 control adults on rapid pointing and balancing measures, tasks which are thought to reflect cerebellar function, was investigated. There were no significant differences between the dyslexic and control participants on the balancing tasks or when the speed and accuracy of pointing were analysed separately. However, when the speed and accuracy of pointing were combined, the dyslexic participants showed poorer performance than the controls (p = 0.045). Furthermore, there were significant relationships between performance on the pointing task and literacy skills, and regression analysis showed that the error and speed of pointing contributed significantly to the variance in literacy skill. The implications for the role of the cerebellum and processing speed in dyslexia are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.