Role of visual attention in cognitive control of oculomotor readiness in students with reading disabilities

J Learn Disabil. 2001 Mar-Apr;34(2):107-18. doi: 10.1177/002221940103400202.


This study investigated eye movement and comprehension therapy in Grade 6 children with reading disabilities (RD). Both order of therapy and type of therapy were examined. Furthermore, the implications of visual attention in ameliorating reading disability are discussed. Thirty-one students with RD were identified using standardized reading comprehension tests. Eye movements were analyzed objectively using an infra-red recording device. Reading scores of participating children were 0.5 to 1 SD below the national mean. Testing took place before the start of therapy (T1) and was repeated after 12 weeks (T2) and 24 weeks (T3) of therapy. One group of students had eye movement therapy first, followed by comprehension therapy; in the other group, the order was reversed. Data were evaluated using a repeated measures MANOVA and post hoc tests. At T1, mean reading grade was 2 years below grade level, and eye movement scores were at about Grade 2 level. Mean growth in reading comprehension for the total sample was 2.6 years (p < .01) at T3; equally significant improvement was measured in eye movements (p < .01). Learning rate in reading comprehension improved from 60% (T1) to 400% (T3). Although within-group differences were statistically significant, between-group differences were not significant for comprehension or eye movements. Order of therapy (comprehension first or eye movements first) was not significant. Improvements in within-group scores for comprehension and eye movements were consistently significant at T2 and T3. Eye movement therapy improved eye movements and also resulted in significant gains in reading comprehension. Comprehension therapy likewise produced improvement both in eye movement efficiency and in reading comprehension. The results support the notion of a cognitive link among visual attention, oculomotor readiness, and reading comprehension.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comprehension*
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / therapy*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Remedial Teaching / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome