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Ophthalmic neurocomputer of eye fixations when reading among young school children with learning difficulties


V.L. Efimova – Ph.D. (Ped.), Principal Director of Scientific Research «Prognoz» Group Neurological Clinics (Saint-Petersburg)
A.V. Novozhilov – Ph.D. (Biol.), Research Scientist, I.M. Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Saint-Petersburg)
N.A. Ryabchikova – Dr.Sc. (Biol.), Senior Research Scientist, Senior of The Higher Nervous Activity, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Characteristics of eye fixations in reading were studied with the help of the eye tracking method among school children aged 7 – 10. The control group included children without learning difficulties but with mild neurological dysfunctions (47 subjects). The intervention group was made up of children with specific developmental disorders of scholastic skills (71 subjects). Two parameters were measured: the accuracy of fixations at the line when reading and their duration. The accuracy was evaluated as a fluctuation rate of a fixation (%) from the height of letters when eye tracking in the horizontal plane from the left to the right. At the age of 7 to 9 in the group of SDDSS there found to be a slight increase in this rate which indicates the decrease in the accuracy of eye fixations. By the age of 10 differences between the groups become statistically significant. In the control group by the age of 10 the duration of fixations remarkably decreases, which was not found in the SDDSS group. An inability to accurately fixate on a line is a disorder which is likely to result from cerebellum dysfunctions and to be a manifestation of ocular dysmetria. A lack of tendency to reduce time of fixations by the age of 10 gives evidence that reading skills of children with SDDSS have not developed well enough. 

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