Patient with 'word blindness' may read again

New York, Jan 3 (IANS): There is hope for patients suffering from 'word blindness' - a rare neurological condition where a patient can write and understand the spoken word but is unable to read.

Scientists at Loyola University Medical Centre in Chicago, Illinois, have invented a technique that enables such patients to read again.

To see how this technique works, the researchers took a 40-year-old kindergarten teacher and reading specialist suffering from 'word blindness' - medically termed as 'alexia without agraphia'.

When shown a word, the patient looked at the first letter. Although she clearly saw it, she could not recognise it. So beginning with the letter A, she traced each letter of the alphabet over the unknown letter until she got a match.

“For example, when shown the word Mother, she would trace the letters of the alphabet, one at a time, until she came to M and found a match. Three letters later, she guessed correctly that the word is Mother,” said the study published in the journal Neurology.

"To see this curious adaption in practice is to witness the very unique and focal nature of the deficit,” said Jason Cuomo of Loyola University Medical Centre.

When shown the word 'dessert', she said, "Oooh, I like that." But when shown 'asparagus,' she reacted, "Something is upsetting me about this word.”

Shown two personal letters that came in the mail, she correctly determined which was sent by a friend of her mother's and which was sent by one of her own friends.

"When asked who these friends were, she could not say, but their names, nevertheless, provoked an emotional response that served as a powerful contextual clue," the researchers added.


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