Multisensory integration and attention in developmental dyslexia
Developmental dyslexia affects 5%-10% of the population, resulting in poor spelling and reading skills. While there are well-documented differences in the way dyslexics process low-level visual and auditory stimuli, it is mostly unknown whether there are similar differences in audiovisual multisensory processes. Here, we investigated audiovisual integration using the redundant target effect (RTE) paradigm. Some conditions demonstrating audiovisual integration appear to depend upon magnocellular pathways, and dyslexia has been associated with deficits in this pathway; so, we postulated that developmental dyslexics ("dyslexics" hereafter) would show differences in audiovisual integration compared with controls. Reaction times (RTs) to multisensory stimuli were compared with predictions from Miller's race model. Dyslexics showed difficulty shifting their attention between modalities; but such "sluggish attention shifting" (SAS) appeared only when dyslexics shifted their attention from the visual to the auditory modality. These results suggest that dyslexics distribute their crossmodal attention resources differently from controls, causing different patterns in multisensory responses compared to controls. From this, we propose that dyslexia training programs should take into account the asymmetric shifts of crossmodal attention.