This study explored the effects of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention on reading, attention, and psychological well-being among people with developmental dyslexia and/or attention deficits. Various types of dyslexia exist, characterized by different error types. We examined a question that has not been tested so far: which types of errors (and dyslexias) are affected by MBSR training. To do so, we tested, using an extensive battery of reading tests, whether each participant had dyslexia, and which errors types s/he makes, and then compared the rate of each error type before and after the MBSR workshop. We used a similar approach to attention disorders: we evaluated the participants' sustained, selective, executive, and orienting of attention to assess whether they had attention-disorders, and if so, which functions were impaired. We then evaluated the effect of MBSR on each of the attention functions. Psychological measures including mindfulness, stress, reflection and rumination, lifesatisfaction, depression, anxiety, and sleep-disturbances were also evaluated. Nineteen Hebrew-readers completed a 2-month mindfulness workshop. The results showed that whereas reading errors of letter-migrations within and between words and vowelletter errors did not decrease following the workshop, most participants made fewer reading errors in general following the workshop, with a significant reduction of 19% from their original number of errors. This decrease mainly resulted from a decrease in errors that occur due to reading via the sublexical rather than the lexical route. It seems, therefore, that mindfulness helped reading by keeping the readers on the lexical route. This improvement in reading probably resulted from improved sustained attention: the reduction in sublexical reading was significant for the dyslexic participants who also had attention deficits, and there were significant correlations between reduced reading errors and decreases in impulsivity. Following the meditation workshop, the rate of commission errors decreased, indicating decreased impulsivity, and the variation in RTs in the CPT task decreased, indicating improved sustained attention. Significant improvements were obtained in participants' mindfulness, perceived-stress, rumination, depression, state-anxiety, and sleep-disturbances. Correlations were also obtained between reading improvement and increased mindfulness following the workshop. Thus, whereas mindfulness training did not affect specific types of errors and did not improve dyslexia, it did affect the reading of adults with developmental dyslexia and ADHD, by helping them to stay on the straight path of the lexical route while reading. Thus, the reading improvement induced by mindfulness sheds light on the intricate relation between attention and reading. Mindfulness reduced impulsivity and improved sustained attention, and this, in turn, improved reading of adults with developmental dyslexia and ADHD, by helping them to read via the straight path of the lexical route.
Keywords: ADHD; MBSR; attention; dyslexia; lexical route; mindfulness meditation; surface dyslexia.