IGS Discussion Forums: GS & Interpersonal Relations: GS & Dyslexia
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 12, 2008 - 10:27 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

My google search for ->"learning disabilities" dyslexia "general semantics"<- yieled 361 hits, most of which were journal or publication indices that included ETC and a learning disabilites journal. There were also a few Scientology hits. I did not look at all hits individually. I do remember that dyslexia in particulars was associated with neural timing synchronization failures. (I lived with a learning disabilities specialist for 9 years.)

[When this timing difficulty affects motor speech process, stuttering is the result. I see a similar process when my dance students try to watch their feet - they are getting two signals - proprioceptive and visual - that arrive in the processing part of the brain out of sync. They switch between the visual and the somatic inputs, resulting in changing their timing and being unable to smoothly follow the music. My experience has shown that they smooth right out as soon as they stop looking at their feet - that is, cut out one time-differing input signal. "Watching one's feet produces the dancing equivalent of stuttering.", I always say. Knowledge of general semantics - structural differential - and consciousness of abstracting enabled me to come to this realization.]

A search on timing yieled corroboration of my memory of the dylexia timing flaw with this abstract:


Stein JF.,University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, UK.
Approximately 5% of 8-10-year-olds experience exceptional difficulties learning to read (developmental dyslexia). This usually has a congenital basis; it runs in families, and affects 4 times as many boys as girls. Dyslexics typically show impairment both in phonemic segmentation (the subdivision of speech beyond the natural syllabic level) and in sequencing small visual symbols. Both these skills draw upon the ability of the nervous system to time sensory events precisely. A specific magnocellular cell type which expresses a distinctive surface antigen plays a crucial role in these functions. The development of this cell line is probably congenitally impaired in dyslexics. Visually they have lowered flicker and motion sensitivity, and disorder of the magnocellular layers of the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus can be seen post mortem. Likewise they have lowered sensitivity to changes in frequency and amplitude of sounds, hence impaired discrimination of speech sounds. These disorders are associated with abnormal hemispheric lateralisation in these subjects, e.g. dyslexics show reduction or reversal of the usual left > right asymmetry of the planum temporale. Many of these characteristics of impaired magnocellular function and reversed hemispheric asymmetry are found not only in dyslexic children but also in developmental dysphasics, autistics, high schizotypes and schizophrenics. I will speculate therefore that normal magnocellular development promotes normal hemispheric asymmetry and that impaired magnocellular development is responsible for a spectrum of problems associated with impaired hemispheric specialisation, ranging from the mildest, dyslexia, to the most severe, schizophrenia. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7775221

I also noted an interesting item which uses sofware to treat the condition. It would be interesting to see if any general semantics principles are used in that software or are incorporated in it. Software to help fix some dyslexia

One thing that seem clear to me. The children are being taught to recognize pairs of letters and to associate (identify) those pairs with sounds "before" or "faster than" recognizing the single letter spelling breakdown of the words.

Whatever the case, as we learn to read we quickly learn to "identify" perceived syllables with both sounds and semantic reaction clusters that compose into the stimulus for identifying and recalling our semantic reaction to the whole word. Syllables are characterised as a "single" sound group that abstracts as a whole "figure" against the auditory "background" abstracted linearly, but visually the words and letters on paper appear as a whole. We must learn and create a memory of combinations that map to the "whole-sound" units called 'syllables' and, in order to effectively read, quickly "identify" the map with the territory - we must "think" in terms of the semantic reaction of the whole word, built from syllables. But if we cannot quickly get from letters to pairs to syllables first, we have a disconnect between reading the letters and responding with the semantic reactions to the higher level abstraction - the combinations that form syllables. [This is an area where rapid "identification" across levels of abstraction is a necessary and beneficial process. I have claimed that not all "identification" is bad, as many "novice" general semanticists seem to continually claim.]

We might be able to use general semantics principles to "explain" how or why the program works to produce a benefit (as I have partially described above). But someone whould have to write a research proposal that explicitly incorporates the principles of general seamntics and applies for a grant somewhere (The Institute?) to conduct the actual research so as to provide corroboration or disconfirmation for the alleged connection.

By learning to recognize clusters (abstractions) faster, so as to quickly get to syllable combinations to correspond to sounds, it would seem we would be laying down new connection pathways in the brain - learning through technical conscious training - what has evolved natually for most.

As an aside, I have still, after 12 years of association - 10 years of marriage - to my Native Russian Bride, not learned much Russian. What gives me the biggest headache is the plethora of word endings that change over 6 different cases for nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verb, pronouns, etc. There are some rules, but I simply have not developed any feel for the gender,case, "emotional relation", etc., semantic reaction clusters associated with words, nor have I been able to get a hold of a number of sounds not common to English. Even learning explicit rules, such as add "a" to the end of the last name for most females (Levin, Levina) has not gotten me anywhere significantly beyond learning certain common words - (often used with the wrong ending). Total immersion might speed up the process. Lena's English is still peppered with missing verbs - mostly "to be" and other auxillary verbs, which the case, gender, etc., endings obviate the need for.

Much dyslexia results from neurologically based timing errors in abstracting. Research suggests that some intervention using software may improve the resulting reading ability. The research news write-up does not appear to allow differentiating between "correcting" timing errors and learning new pathways which bypass the timing errors.

The reserch does seem to show that it is critical with respect to time to be able to "identify" visual stimuli with auditory based semantic reactions rapidy with precise timing. This contradicts the (novice) general semantics point of view that argues that "identification" (responding to a lower level of abstraction in terms of a higher level of abstraction [rapidly]) is "bad" and to be avoided.