The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
Scientific Information about Dyslexia

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Ferrer E, Shaywitz BA, Holahan JM, Marchione K, Shaywitz SE.
Uncoupling of Reading and IQ Over Time: Empirical Evidence for a Definition of Dyslexia.
Psychol Sci. 2010 Jan;21(1):93-101. Epub 2009 Nov 23. PubMed PMID: 20424029.


Developmental dyslexia is defined as an unexpected difficulty in reading in individuals who otherwise possess the intelligence and motivation considered necessary for fluent reading, and who also have had reasonable reading instruction. Identifying factors associated with normative and impaired reading development has implications for diagnosis, intervention, and prevention. We show that in typical readers, reading and IQ development are dynamically linked over time. Such mutual interrelationships are not perceptible in dyslexic readers, which suggests that reading and cognition develop more independently in these individuals. To our knowledge, these findings provide the first empirical demonstration of a coupling between cognition and reading in typical readers and a developmental uncoupling between cognition and reading in dyslexic readers. This uncoupling was the core concept of the initial description of dyslexia and remains the focus of the current definitional model of this learning disability.

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Reynolds CR, Shaywitz SE.
Response to Intervention: Ready or Not? Or, From Wait-to-Fail to Watch-Them-Fail.

Sch Psychol Q. 2009 Jun 1;24(2):130. PubMed PMID: 20169006; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2823081.


Response to Intervention (RTI) models of diagnosis and intervention are being implemented rapidly throughout the schools. The purposes of invoking an RTI model for disabilities in the schools clearly are laudable, yet close examination reveals an unappreciated paucity of empirical support for RTI and an overly optimistic view of its practical, problematic issues. Models are being put into practice without adequate research and logistical support and neglect the potential negative long-term impact on students with disabilities. Many implementation problems exist: (a) the vagaries of critical details of the model in practice; (b) the lack of consideration of bright struggling readers; (c) the relativeness, contextual, situation dependent nature of who is identified; (d) the worrisome shortcomings of the RTI process as a means of diagnosis or determination of a disability; and (e) the apparent lack of student-based data to guide an effective choice of approaches and components of intervention. Practiced as a model of prevention, the authors agree with the concept of RTI. As the authors witness its application to disability determination sans the benefit of a reliable and valid empirical basis, the potential benefits to some children with disabilities remain an unproven hypothesis while the potential detriment to some children with disabilities remains a very real possibility.


Shaywitz SE, Shaywitz BA.
Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia.

Dev Psychopathol. 2008 Fall;20(4):1329-49. Review. PubMed PMID: 18838044.


Extraordinary progress in functional brain imaging, primarily advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging, now allows scientists to understand the neural systems serving reading and how these systems differ in dyslexic readers. Scientists now speak of the neural signature of dyslexia, a singular achievement that for the first time has made what was previously a hidden disability, now visible. Paralleling this achievement in understanding the neurobiology of dyslexia, progress in the identification and treatment of dyslexia now offers the hope of identifying children at risk for dyslexia at a very young age and providing evidence-based, effective interventions. Despite these advances, for many dyslexic readers, becoming a skilled, automatic reader remains elusive, in great part because though children with dyslexia can be taught to decode words, teaching children to read fluently and automatically represents the next frontier in research on dyslexia. We suggest that to break through this "fluency" barrier, investigators will need to reexamine the more than 20-year-old central dogma in reading research: the generation of the phonological code from print is modular, that is, automatic and not attention demanding, and not requiring any other cognitive process. Recent findings now present a competing view: other cognitive processes are involved in reading, particularly attentional mechanisms, and that disruption of these attentional mechanisms plays a causal role in reading difficulties. Recognition of the role of attentional mechanisms in reading now offers potentially new strategies for interventions in dyslexia. In particular, the use of pharmacotherapeutic agents affecting attentional mechanisms not only may provide a window into the neurochemical mechanisms underlying dyslexia but also may offer a potential adjunct treatment for teaching dyslexic readers to read fluently and automatically. Preliminary studies suggest that agents traditionally used to treat disorders of attention, particularly attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, may prove to be an effective adjunct to improving reading in dyslexic students.

Copyright 2008, The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity ̢ Yale School of Medicine