Learning the Alphabet

“I myself cannot spell. Have never been able to. I do not pay attention to spelling and mix letters.”

-Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

Since industrialization, being able to read and write has become the norm. Although, most may not even remember how they learned what letter matches which sound, about a tenth of people struggle with this – dyslexics. A common occurrence in dyslexics is both, mixing up similar-looking letters and similar-sounding words. However, it is still uncertain what has a larger effect.

In our study, we focus on the effect that similar symbols and syllables have on learning new symbol-syllable combinations – a sort of alien language. Our experiment tests four randomly assigned groups on their relative learning performance; on the left you can see a few examples of the letters.

An example of an earlier version of the test

Our goal is to look at how learning occurs. All subjects first learn a set of sound-grapheme pairs, that are used as a baseline. Then they learn a different set that varies per group. By comparing the learning performance we hope to see what characteristics prove most difficult. When using the results from this study in combination with modern neuroimaging techniques, we might be able to locate the brain structures involved in dyslexia. Eventually creating a better understanding for cause and treatment of dyslexia.

Group 40

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