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Friday, October 4, 2013

Understanding the relationship between klutziness and dyslexia and "sound body, sound mind" found key to solving century-old diagnostic and therapeutic riddles.

An important study recently published in the journal Aphasiology demonstrated what was clinically and intuitively known: normal aging makes us mildly "dyslexic." But how? According to this study, its because aging impairs higher brain functioning. In part, this is consistent with slower mentation and speech processing, lapses in memory and concentration, etc. And also because aging adults were found to have similar phonetic processing difficulties as do younger dyslexics who were assumed to have a primary cerebral impairment. (2013, Vol.00, No 00, 1-16, )

However, an equally important correlated finding was omitted from consideration. Aging also makes us klutzy. Might dyslexia and klutziness, however mild, be related? Might the crux of this relationship also explain the intuitive adage "Sound body, sound mind?"

According to Dr. Harold Levinson, the understanding of this previously overlooked relationship was key to solving most all the riddles characterizing dyslexia. And the scientific understanding of "Sound body, sound mind" led to the discovery of a new and successful medical treatment for dyslexics of all ages. It also helped clarify the dual role of the cerebellum in determining motor functioning and co-determining such higher mental functions as cognition and learning, memory, concentration, speech and language, emotions, sensory (eg. phonetic) processing, etc. Previously, these latter functions were mistakenly attributed to only cerebral brain processors, resulting in erroneous or incomplete dyslexia assumptions, convictions and definitions.

A comprehensive understanding of dyslexia and all its variations, including aging, evolved over a four decade research effort. Dyslexia was recognized to be far more complex than just a severe reading disorder characterized by reversals or phonetic-related difficulties. In fact, this learning disorder was found to be a multidimensional syndrome of reading and non-reading symptoms involving writing, spelling, math, memory, speech, sensory-motor processing, etc

Upon detailed clinical examinations of dyslexics, only balance and coordination or "klutzy" neurological signs and symptoms diagnostic of an inner-ear/cerebellar deficit were invariably found. Accordingly: Might the reading and phonetic difficulties as well as most other dyslexic symptoms be of a "klutzy" or cerebellar vs. an assumed cerebral origin? Might the cerebral cortex be initially normal in (non-senior) dyslexics, many having a favorable prognosis? Might the cerebral cortex thus play a vital compensatory vs dysfunctioning role, especially since diagnostic cerebral neurological signs could not be detected?

Based on the above insights and findings, the dyslexia syndrome was postulated by Levinson to occur when initially normal reading and related higher brain cerebral structures failed to process or compensate for the cerebellar/inner-ear determined scrambled reading and related signals received and transmitted.

Importantly, this concept was also consistent with the research of outstanding cerebellar neurophysiologists and inner-ear experts (neurotologists), thereby gaining their support. Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles demonstrated that the cerebellum regulates signal transmissions; thus a cerebellar failure results in signal-scrambling. And Alan and Henrietta Leiner and Robert Dow, among many others scientists, highlighted the crucial role of the cerebellum in co-regulating higher mental functioning with the cerebral cortex. Thus a cerebellar defect can readily explain the mental, concentration and emotional dysfunctioning as well as the "klutziness" characterizing dyslexia and related learning, attention-deficit, and even phobic disorders.

Careful neuropsychological testing revealed that most all dyslexic children become dyslexic adults, and the reverse. Aging appears to diminish cerebral and/or interrelated cerebellar functioning, thus explaining both dyslexic and klutzy intensification or creation.

However, dyslexia and related disorders may be acquired or intensified at any age by any condition which:

(A) - impairs inner-ear/cerebellar function (eg. ear and sinus conditions, mononucleosis, whiplash, aging, etc.), and or
(B) - disrupts compensatory cerebral processing (eg. concussions, traumatic brain injury, aging, etc.).

Improvements in dyslexia and related disorders occur by compensatory mechanisms and therapies which:

A-improve inner-ear/cerebellar functioning and so decrease related signal scrambling (eg. inner-ear enhancing medications and exercises, etc.), and/or
B- improve cerebral and related descrambling capabilities (eg. cognitive and concentration enhancement, biofeedback, etc.).

The following examples are illustrative:

A-Observe how scrambled signals improve with medical treatment.

According to Levinson, more than 75-85% of dyslexic children respond favorably, rapidly and often dramatically to medical treatment which improves inner-ear and cerebellar or "klutzy" functioning, further verifying both the cause and therapeutic effect implied by "Sound body, sound mind." Adult dyslexics respond almost as well as do children. And seniors improve less than do younger adults, probably because of decreased cerebral capabilities.

B-Observe compensatory descrambling of reading signals.

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About Harold N. Levinson, MD: Physician, Researcher and Author

Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU Medical Center, Dr. Levinson is now Medical Director of The Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Great Neck, New York. His pioneering research was initially supported by Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles and other outstanding cerebellar and inner-ear scientists. More recently, Levinson's evolving cerebellar based concepts have been independently validated in world-wide neuroimaging and other studies. For additional information, log on to