For children with dyslexia, learning to read can be a nightmare: to them, it's a jumble of words, letters, and sounds that is impossible to make sense of. Studies show that dyslexia is a disorder of the brain (rather than of the visual system), but since scientists still don’t know the root cause, there’s no simple way to combat the disorder. Traditional treatments and therapies for the dyslexia are time-consuming, expensive, and don’t necessarily bring huge improvements.

One of the hallmarks of dyslexia is what researchers call "attentional dysfunction;" this deficit makes it hard for dyslexics to focus their attention and pick out important information in a cluttered environment. To attack this deficit head-on, a group of Italian researchers wondered whether children with dyslexia would benefit from intense immersion in an activity that forced them to practice these skills. Specifically, would playing active video games help dyslexic kids learn to focus their attention, making it easier for them to learn to read?

The answer was a resounding yes, according to the research detailed in Current Biology this week.

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