Dyslexia, beta waves and rhythm processing – that is a mouthful of tricky words. But in this new study, they are all connected and could reveal new understandings about the brain mechanisms that cause dyslexia.
Firstly, what is dyslexia? Developmental dyslexia is a reading disorder that features difficulties in perceiving and tracking rhythmic regularities in auditory streams, such as speech and music. This last part of the definition points to why the study of music processing is helping us to understand the nature of dyslexia.
Secondly, what are beta waves? When the brain is aroused and actively engaged in mental activities, it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. When the “power” to these brainwaves is not consistent, a person will struggle with their attention and predictive timing for both speech and music processing. People with developmental dyslexia have been found to have fluctuations in beta waves.
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Finally, why rhythm processing? Correct copying or making a rhythm required high levels of predictive timing, attention and what is called rhythm entrainment (the coordination or synchronisation of different rhythms). These are all the areas that people with dyslexia struggle with, so it follows that rhythm processing is a great way to understand the brain mechanisms associated with dyslexia, as well as use rhythm processing activities as an intervention or therapy for dyslexia.
As the researchers suggested at the end of their abstract “These findings extend our understanding of atypical neural activities for tracking rhythm in dyslexia and could inspire novel methods to objectively measure the benefits of training, and predict potential benefit of auditory rhythmic rehabilitation programs on an individual basis.”