A REGION of the brain known as the body's autopilot, because it allows us to carry out complex movements without thinking too hard, has been linked to dyslexia, the learning disorder that affects one child in twenty.
Scientists have identified abnormal activity in the cerebellum of dyslexics, which could account for why they must concentrate far harder on reading than non-dyslexic people, a finding that may lead to better pre-school tests for the condition.
The research could explain why dyslexic children tend to be more clumsy and why they find it more difficult to carry out "automatic" movements that other people take for granted, such as driving while talking, and playing sports such as tennis where movement in relation to other people or objects is important.
Rod Nicholson, a psychologist at the University of Shef-field who made the five-year study, told the British Association that several lines of evidence point to a "deficit" in the activity of the cerebellum as the probable cause of dyslexia.
"Of course automatisation is a key requirement for reading, and there is extensive evidence that dyslexic children, even when reading well, are less fluent, requiring more time and effort to read than would a non- dyslexic child of the same reading age.
"We have used the analogy of driving in a foreign country - one can do it, but it requires continual effort and is stressful and tiring over long periods. On our account, life for a dyslexic child is like always living in a foreign country."
The most startling finding, Professor Nicholson said, was that dyslexic children are significantly worse at balancing, a highly automatic ability not obviously connected to reading. …