Translating Dyslexia Across Species
Direct relationships between induced mutation in the DCDC2 candidate dyslexia susceptibility gene in mice and changes in behavioral measures of visual spatial learning have been reported. We were interested in determining whether performance on a visual-spatial learning and memory task could be translated across species (study 1) and whether children with reading impairment showed a similar impairment to animal models of the disorder (study 2). Study 1 included 37 participants who completed six trials of four different virtual Hebb-Williams maze configurations. A 2 × 4 × 6 mixed factorial repeated measures ANOVA indicated consistency in performance between humans and mice on these tasks, enabling us to translate across species. Study 2 included a total of 91 participants (age range = 8–13 years). Eighteen participants were identified with reading disorder by performance on the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement. Participants completed six trials of five separate virtual Hebb-Williams maze configurations. A 2 × 5 × 6 mixed factorial ANCOVA (gender as covariate) indicated that individuals with reading impairment demonstrated impaired visuo-spatial performance on this task. Overall, results from this study suggest that we are able to translate behavioral deficits observed in genetic animal models of dyslexia to humans with reading impairment. Future studies will utilize the virtual environment to further explore the underlying basis for this impairment.
Gabel, Lisa A.; Manglani, Monica; Escalona, Nicholas; Cysner, Jessica; Hamilton, Rachel; Pfaffmann, Jefferey; and Johnson, Evelyn. (2016). "Translating Dyslexia Across Species". Annals of Dyslexia, 66(3), 319-336.