Learning disabilities are usually thought of as limitations. New research shows that these conditions have benefits of their own.
A new study reframes the way scientists have been thinking about dyslexia. Researchers found that people with this particular learning disorder might have an edge when compared to people without it, having better decision-making skills, spatial awareness, and more.
The study, published in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology, reexamines the way that developmental dyslexia has been viewed, finding some of the advantages it provides for people with the condition.
The study shows that the brains of people with dyslexia might find it easier to explore their environments for clues, impacting their decision-making skills, abilities that were highly important back when humans made life or death decisions on a frequent basis.
“This research proposes a new framework to help us better understand the cognitive strengths of people with dyslexia,” said Helen Taylor, psychologist of the University of Cambridge and one of the study’s lead authors.
Dyslexia is a condition known for its impact on reading and learning. While this limitation can impact people’s self-esteem, particularly due to how modern learning is designed, scientists have found that people with dyslexia are better equipped at spatial reasoning and are also more inventive, creative, and better at predicting a variety of outcomes.
“We believe that the areas of difficulty experienced by people with dyslexia result from a cognitive trade-off between exploration of new information and exploitation of existing knowledge, with the upside being an explorative bias that could explain enhanced abilities observed in certain realms like discovery, invention, and creativity,” said Taylor.
Researchers explain that people with dyslexia have been around for ages, with our reliance on reading and learning — relatively new developments in terms of evolution — bringing this issue to the forefront, prompting experts to view them as a cognitive limitation.
Dyslexia is a common condition, with around 3 million cases reported in the US annually. It usually runs in families and is often linked with trouble learning, social problems, and problems as adults.