New research could explain why people with dyslexia are drawn to certain professions – including the arts, engineering and entrepreneurship.
The University of Cambridge says dyslexics are better at exploring the unknown – and have “enhanced abilities” when it comes to discovery, invention and creativity.
Those behind the study say the world needs to change its perspective and stop treating dyslexia as a neurological disorder.
Estimates suggest that up to 20% of the population have dyslexia – and the study’s aim was to better understand their cognitive strengths.
Lead author Dr Helen Taylor said “the deficit-centred view of dyslexia isn’t telling the whole story” as people with this condition “play an essential role in human adaptation”.
Many people with dyslexia thrive on explorative learning – and “searching the unknown” through experimentation, discovery and innovation.
This is a contrast to exploitative learning, which focuses on what’s already known – featuring tasks such as reading and writing that can present difficulties for someone with dyslexia.
“Schools, academic institutes and workplaces are not designed to make the most of explorative learning. But we urgently need to start nurturing this way of thinking to allow humanity to continue to adapt and solve key challenges,” Dr Taylor said.
She added: “It could also explain why people with dyslexia appear to gravitate towards certain professions that require exploration-related abilities, such as arts, architecture, engineering and entrepreneurship.”
Forty years ago, the American neurologist Norman Geschwind noted that an increasing number of studies suggest those with dyslexia often have “superior talents in certain non-verbal skills”.
Academics argue that different but complementary ways of thinking enhances our ability to adapt through collaboration.
The new paper has been published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal.