Dyslexics may have played an important role in the survival of our species

Dyslexia, defined as an impairment in the ability to read or difficulty recognizing and reproducing written language, is often associated with a variety of negative characteristics. Far from this traditional vision, a new scientific study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology invites us to shift the paradigm and look at this disorder from a completely different angle. An angle where dyslexia is actually an asset that throughout history has helped the human species adapt to different situations.

For University of Cambridge psychologists, members of the study, people who have greater difficulty interpreting written words quickly would benefit from an increased ability to explore their surroundings to make up for this deficiency. An ability that would allow them to make off-the-beaten-path decisions much faster.


Psychologically, our minds are being torn apart by a compromise called exploitation/exploration, reports Science Alert. When we have to make a decision, this compromise forces us to be sure of the information we have, but also to try to anticipate the end result. For dyslexics, the balance tips on the side of exploration.

As a strategy for adjusting to a world they sometimes have difficulty deciphering, dyslexics observe, explore, and seek information about the world rather than reinterpreting information already recorded. A trait that would make them more inventive and creative, adds futurism while allowing them to make decisions much faster.

This last point is particularly important, the study notes. Given that this disorder is largely inherited and currently affects between 5% and 10% of the population, dyslexia must have been favored in evolution. The members of the study therefore suspect that dyslexics, with their love of discovery and their ability to make quick decisions, may have played an important role in the survival of our species throughout history. But in our age, when writing and reading are paramount, these benefits would be somewhat overshadowed by their difficulties.

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