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Understanding and targeting developmental dyslexia: from animal models to humans
Developmental dyslexia (DD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 5-15% of children world-wide. It is characterized by reading impairment that persists into adulthood with severe consequences for individual well-being and high societal costs. Unfortunately, the pathophysiological causes for DD are still unknown, there are no biological markers for diagnosis, current treatments are time-consuming and their efficacy not well-proven. Neuroscientific accounts focus primarily on language-related brain networks to explain DD. A growing body of research, however, suggests that key features of DD are associated with alterations in early sensory pathways, particularly in visual and auditory thalamic nuclei and their specific reciprocal connections with high-order sensory cortices. Recent neurostimulation studies showed that targeting these specific areas might improve reading in DD. ReDyslexia brings together unique expertise and novel methods to investigate thalamo-cortical development and function in a translational perspective: mouse models, non-human primates, and humans from child- to adulthood will be studied to reveal the thalamo-cortical loop dysfunction in DD and translate the knowledge to improve targeted neurostimulation therapy. We expect that a stratification of DD based on thalamo-cortical loop functions will be the basis for diagnostic markers and more refined treatment options in the future.