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The scientific look behind learning difficulties

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BlickLabor: Scientific Research

The scientific foundation of BlickLaborís work is based on thirty years of research into visual and auditory processing by the Optomotor Research Group at the University of Freiburg in Germany.

The eyes and the ears are receptors or receivers of visual and auditory stimuli, but it is the brain that transforms this information into meaningful images and sounds. Stimuli from the eyes, ears and other sense organs undergo complex processing in different parts of the brain until the input is translated into comprehensible signals, sounds, patterns and pictures in our consciousness. This fundamental or "low-level" auditory and visual processing occurs automatically and subconsciously.

Initially it seems that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. However, a child has to learn to interpret a series of sounds as "music" or to recognize a fire as a hazard. Hearing and seeing are the result of the ears and the eyes working in conjunction with the brain. Phrases such as "dynamic vision" or "cognitive hearing" remind us that neural processing is involved in seeing and hearing.

Through learning and discrimination our hearing and seeing develops and becomes increasing precise and sophisticated. Although a baby can respond to sound at birth, directional hearing does not develop until the age of 7 or 8 years of age, and, the skills of an outstanding musician take decades to perfect. Auditory and visual processing is foundation underlying this development of discrimination in hearing and seeing

BlickLabor analyses the processing of auditory and visual information from the eyes and ears to the brain. As individuals we are not aware if these processes are functioning well or not. It is only by the assessment of these processes that deficiencies become apparent. There may be inaccuracies as well as developmental deficits. These may in turn give rise to learning difficulties.

Research by the Optomotor Research Group shows that 30 to 70% of dyslexic and 50% of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) children performed significantly lower on low-level auditory and visual processing compared to age-matched control groups. The tests measure abilities that are essential for the decoding of speech and written language. Saccade control, the ability to move the eyes quickly, is essential for reading. The eyes have to focus word-by-word and line-by line in the correct order.

The ability to discriminate volume, pitch and gaps is essential for decoding stressed or unstressed syllables and words, the rise and fall of speech, and the gaps within and between words.

People of any age may have deficiencies in auditory and visual processing. However, problems often surface in school with the learning of writing, reading and spelling. These activities place high demands on visual and auditory processing. Mirror writing, the reversing of letters, numbers and words may be symptomatic of deficiencies in neural processing. Similarly, loosing the words or lines point to problems In saccade control.

BlickLabor offers training to rectify deficits in auditory and visual processing. These improvements transfer to learning in school. Studies show that some children show progress in reading, writing and arithmetic even before completing the training. In other cases parents report improvements later.

Please note: There are many causes and reasons (and, probably some are unknown,) for learning difficulties. Some approaches are effective for some children and ineffective for others. It is unlikely there is one solution for all. The diagnosis and training at BlickLabor is a key strand in a strategy for addressing reading, writing and arithmetic difficulties.

For more information on scientific research into vision, auditory processing and eye movements please visit the website of the Optomotor Research Group of the University of Freiburg (Germany). There you will find essential Abstracts as well as book references.

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