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Speed of Sight


A total of 1,047 visitors (393 families) to the Ontario Science Centre participated in this study. Parents that participated completed three questionnaires: one about their child’s attentiveness and ability to concentrate, a standard demographic questionnaire and a questionnaire about how much a child is read to as well as how much reading each child does on their own.

The children, aged 6 to 16 years, completed a series of computer tasks where response time (time to make decision) and accuracy (whether right or wrong) were measured. The children also completed several short word games on paper. These tests have been proven to provide a good indication of reading ability.

The tasks completed were:

  • A test where the children chose which of two pretend words is more like a real English word
  • Word tests to see how fast the children could say real words and pretend words
  • Tests of how quickly the children could name a list of letters, objects, numbers and colours

For the genetic study, a cheek swab sample was collected from all 1,047 individuals that participated. From the cheek swabs, we were able to isolate DNA, the genetic material, for each person. We will be able to compare the scores on the tests and the variations in each person’s DNA to, hopefully, identify genes that are involved in the reading process.