Visuo-spatial attention and reading abilities: an action game prototype for dyslexic children

Giuseppina Rita Mangione 1 , Luca Andrea Ludovico 2 , Pio Alfredo Di Tore 3 , Stefano Di Tore 4 , and Felice Corona 4
  • 1 INDIRE National Institute of Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research, Italy
  • 2 University of Milan, Italy
  • 3 IC San Valentino Torio, Italy
  • 4 University of Salerno, Italy


The ability to play action videogames – not directly related to phonological or orthographic training – seems to be a teaching tool able to intervene specifically on spatial attention and drastically improve the reading skills of dyslexic children. The MADRIGALE project aims at the design and development of an action game, simultaneously involving both phonological and attention training in order to adapt educational game strategies for special needs.

Within the MADRIGALE project, the design of the prototype was presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Networking and Collaborative Systems, while an experimentation about educational effectiveness of the prototype, conducted using ‘Prove MT2’ as a benchmarking tool for measuring accuracy and speed of reading, was published in the International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET). This paper is an extension of the work presented in SIREM – SIEL 2014 Conference, and presents the results of a Game Evaluation Sheet administered to 50 primary school teachers with experience of dyslexic students

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Azevedo, R. & Bernard, R. M. (1995). A meta-analysis of the effects of feedback in computer-based instruction. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 13(2), 111-127.

  • Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Kulik, C. L. C., Kulik, J. A. & Morgan, M. (1991). The instructional effect of feedback in test-like events. Review of educational research, 61(2), 213-238.

  • Bouma, H. (1970). Interaction effects in parafoveal letter recognition. Nature, 226, 177-178.

  • Chung, S.T. (2002). The effect of letter spacing on reading speed in central and peripheral vision. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 43(4), 1270-1276.

  • Cogo-Moreira, H., de Avila, C. R. B., Ploubidis, G. B. & de Jesus Mari, J. (2013). Effectiveness of Music Education for the Improvement of Reading Skills and Academic Achievement in Young Poor Readers: A Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial. PloS one, 8(3), e59984.

  • Cornoldi, C., Colpo, G. & Gruppo, M. (2011). Prove di lettura MT-2 per la Scuola Primaria. Giunti OS.

  • Cottini, L. (2008). Per una didattica speciale di qualità: dalla conoscenza del deficit all'intervento inclusivo: Morlacchi.

  • Dehaene, S., Pegado, F., Braga, L. W., Ventura, P., Nunes Filho, G., Jobert, A. & Cohen, L. (2010). How learning to read changes the cortical networks for vision and language. Science, 330(6009), 1359-1364.

  • Douglas, S. & Willatts, P. (1994). The relationship between musical ability and literacy skills. Journal of Research in Reading, 17(2), 99-107.

  • Fischer, F.W., Liberman, I.Y. & Shankweiler, D. (1978). Reading Reversals and Developmental Dyslexia a Further Study, Cortex, 14(4), 496-510.

  • Fonte, V. (2014). Una metodologia d'intervento olistico per il recupero delle dislessie in età evolutiva: esperienza sonoro-musicale e linguistica creativa quale approccio educativo-didattico integrato in

  • Franceschini, S., Gori, S., Ruffino, M., Viola, S., Molteni, M. & Facoetti, A. (2013). Action video games make dyslexic children read better. Current Biology, 23(6), 462-466.

  • Franceschini, S., Gori, S., Ruffino, M., Pedrolli, K. & Facoetti, A. (2012). A causal link between visual spatial attention and reading acquisition. Current Biology, 22(9), 814-819.

  • Gaab, N., Tallal, P., Kim, H., Lakshminarayanan, K., Archie, J., Glover, G. & Gabrieli, J. (2005). Neural correlates of rapid spectrotemporal processing in musicians and nonmusicians. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1060(1), 82-88.

  • Gabrieli, J.D. (2009). Dyslexia: a new synergy between education and cognitive neuroscience. Science, 325(5938), 280-283.

  • Harrar, V., Tammam, J., Pérez-Bellido, A., Pitt, A., Stein, J. & Spence, C. (2014). Multisensory Integration and Attention in Developmental Dyslexia. Current Biology, 24(5), 531-535.

  • Hattie, J. & Gan, M. (2011). Instruction based on feedback. Handbook of research on learning and instruction, 249-271.

  • Hinostroza, J.E. & Mellar, H. (2001). Pedagogy embedded in educational software design: report of a case study. Computers & Education, 37(1), 27-40.

  • Johnson, D., Cox, M. & Watson, D. (1994). Evaluating the impact of IT on pupils' achievements. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 10(3), 138-156.

  • Lachmann, T. & Geyer, T. (2003). Letter reversals in dyslexia: Is the case really closed? A critical review and conclusions, Psychology Science, 45, 50-70.

  • Long, M. (2014). “I can read further and there’s more meaning while I read”: An exploratory study investigating the impact of a rhythm-based music intervention on children’s reading. Research Studies in Music Education, 1321103X14528453.

  • Lovett, M.W. (1992). Developmental dyslexia.

  • Mangione, G.R. (2013). Istruzione adattiva. Approcci, tecniche e tecnologie. Lecce: Pensa editore.

  • Narciss, S. (2007). Feedback strategies for interactive learning tasks. Handbook of research on educational communications and technology, 125-144.

  • Narciss, S., & Huth, K. (2004). How to design informative tutoring feedback for multimedia learning. Instructional design for multimedia learning, 181-195.

  • Overy, K. (2003). Dyslexia and music. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 999(1), 497-505.

  • Pavlidis, G.T. (1985). Eye Movements in Dyslexia Their Diagnostic Significance. Journal of learning disabilities, 18(1), 42-50.

  • Perea, M., Panadero, V., Moret-Tatay, C. & Gómez, P. (2012). The effects of inter-letter spacing in visual-word recognition: Evidence with young normal readers and developmental dyslexics. Learning and Instruction, 22(6), 420-430.

  • Reid, L.D. & Reid, M. (2004). Towards A Reader-Friendly Font: Rationale for Developing a Typeface that is Friendly for Beginning Readers, Particularly those Labeled Dyslexic. Visible Language, 38(3), 246-259.

  • Rello, L. & Baeza-Yates, R. (2013) “Good Fonts for Dyslexia”, in Proc. ASSETS, Vol. 13.

  • Richards, T.L. & Berninger, V.W. (2008). Abnormal fMRI connectivity in children with dyslexia during a phoneme task: Before but not after treatment. Journal of neurolinguistics, 21(4), 294-304.

  • Sales, G.C. (1993). Adapted and adaptive feedback in technology-based instruction. Interactive instruction and feedback, 159-175.

  • Shute, V.J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of educational research, 78(1), 153-189.

  • Sibilio, M. & Di Tore, S. (2014). Body, movement and space for a simplex didactics: a pilot study on the realization of a font for Specific Learning Disabilities. Education Sciences & Society, 4(2).

  • Stella, G. (2003). La dislessia: aspetti clinici, psicologici e riabilitativi (Vol. 133). Milano: Franco Angeli.

  • Strong, G.K., Torgerson, C.J., Torgerson, D. & Hulme, C. (2011). A systematic meta-analytic review of evidence for the effectiveness of the ‘Fast ForWord’ language intervention program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(3), 224-235.

  • Tallal, P. (1991). Hormonal influences in developmental learning disabilities. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 16(1), 203-211.

  • Temple, C.M. & Marshall, J.C. (1983). A case study of developmental phonological dyslexia. British Journal of Psychology, 74(4), 517-533.

  • Vidyasagar, T.R. & Pammer, K. (2010). Dyslexia: a deficit in visuo-spatial attention, not in phonological processing. Trends in cognitive sciences, 14(2), 57-63.

  • Wang, M.C. (1992). Adaptive education strategies: Building on diversity. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.

  • Yeshurun, Y. & Rashal, E. (2010). Precueing attention to the target location diminishes crowding and reduces the critical distance. Journal of Vision, 10(10), 16.


Journal + Issues