While dyslexia is characterized by learning difficulties, researchers at the University of Cambridge concluded that people with the disorder are good at exploring the unknown. According to the researchers, this force helps humans adapt and survive in changing environments. The findings come as researchers study behavior, cognition and the brain. They emphasize that the ability to explore in dyslexics is related to its evolution and contributes to human survival.
“We argue that the areas of difficulty experienced by people with dyslexia are the result of a cognitive trade-off between exploring new information and utilizing existing knowledge, with the benefit that exploratory bias can explain the enhanced abilities observed in certain domains, such as finding , invention and creativity,” explained Dr Helen Taylor, an affiliated scholar at the University of Cambridge’s MacDonald Institute of Archaeology. She is the lead author of the study, published in Frontiers in Psychology.
According to Taylor, a “deficit-centered” view of dyslexia is not enough and a change in perspective is needed. “This study presents a new framework to help us better understand cognitive abilities in people with dyslexia,” she added.
This is the first time an interdisciplinary approach using an evolutionary perspective has been considered for the study of dyslexia.
She emphasized that the environments provided by academic institutions, schools and workplaces do not provide for exploratory learning. Taylor also called for the inclusion of this mindset so humans can continue to adapt and overcome challenges.
These findings come in the context of complementary cognitive theory, which argues that our ancestors evolved to specialize in different but complementary ways of thinking. This helps humans adapt to change through cooperation.
“Striking a balance between exploring new opportunities and taking advantage of the benefits of particular choices is key to adaptation and survival, and underpins many of the decisions we make in our daily lives,” Taylor said.
Exploration involves searching for unknown things, while development is using existing things, such as optimization and selection. Taylor emphasizes that exploratory professional research on people with dyslexia can shed light on why they face difficulties in exploitation-related tasks.
“This could also explain why people with dyslexia seem to gravitate toward certain occupations that require the exploration of related competencies, such as art, architecture, engineering and entrepreneurship,” she added.