Professor Stein’s research focuses on how vision controls movement in animals, patients with movement disorders, dyslexic children and antisocial offenders. He collaborates with neurosurgeon Professor Tipu Aziz on deep brain stimulation for movement disorders and pain, with Dr Sue Fowler on visual dyslexia, and with the Institute of Food, Brain & Behaviour on the influence of nutrition on behaviour. These studies have led to novel approaches to treatment, such as deep brain stimulation of the pedunculopontine nucleus for Parkinsonian freezing and falling, blue and yellow filters for visual dyslexia and omega 3 fatty acid supplements for antisocial behaviour.
The physiology behind yellow and blue filters helping reading
How the diagnosis of dyslexia is a mess
Timing and sequencing and how this impacts on reading
How increased phonics training often does not help dyslexics who benefit from a more holistic approach to reading where they are taught what words look and sound like rather than going into the phonics of splitting words down into the separate sounds.
Magnocellular and parvocellular theory of dyslexia
Dyslexia in prison and the impact bringing Omega 3 Fish Oils into the diet could have
“What I have tried to emphasise is that dyslexics makeup for their weaknesses at sequential temporal processing by having fantastic holistic abilities. This means they can see patterns in a whole thing that they are looking at - but it extends to abstract situations - where for instance reading people - they can put together all the aspects of somebody they know in such a way to extract the true person and empathise with them more [...] it extends to things like art, computing, computer systems- seeing in their minds eye the intricacies of a computer program and immediately spotting things that don't fit in, gaps in the pattern of the programming and therefore they can do things other people can't do- that is why they make such fantastic architects as well.”
Extract on coloured filters:
“Timing system in the brain mediated by a set of cells called magnocells - best activated by yellow light. The whole system of timing within the brain also facilitated by blue light- so we have been using blue or yellow filter and we find the vast majority with visual problems are helped by either blue of yellow and those filters are very cheap so we can help a lot of children. [...] There has never been a large randomised control trial of blue or yellow filters- we are in the process of trying to do one, but Covid has mucked that up completely. But preliminary results have been quite supportive of our idea.”
Extract on fish-oils:
“I have told you these magno cells are important for timing - they have to react fast. Infact, The magnocellular input to the visual cortex reaches there 10 milliseconds earlier than the parvo cells input. That doesn't sound a lot but when you amplify that up when you are doing anything, [...] this converts to a hundred millisecond advance - a tenth of a second earlier and that is a significant amount. What that means the magnosystem needs to have membranes that can react fast and the one molecule that is important for allowing membranes to react fast is an omega 3 that comes mainly from fish oils- we can make it from vegetable oils but we are bad at it. That is how I got interested in DHA because we found that if we gave dyslexics who had subsisted on a diet low in fish in their youth we could actually improve their reading and that is simply by making their slightly impared magno cells work better.”
Extract on Magnocellular and parvocellular theory:
“If you have a weakness in the development of your magnocells, that means your parvocells are going to be more succeful at making connections. The absent magnocells leave room for the parvocells to do better and that explains why many dyslexics, not all, have remarkable talents- because the parvocells are better connected. The parvocells make more widespread connections- have longer axons[...] that in turn means the things the parvocells are good at, like fine-detail, patterns and colour are inhanced. That means dyslexics are better at colour discrimination, better at viso-spatial activites that demand seeing a whole picture at once - which generalises to more abstract situations where this holistic way of thinking is an advantage.”
“Probably around 1980 - at the time the then vice-chancellor said there is no possibility that anybody with dyslexia could be at Oxford - they wouldn't get here. I was extremely angry about that so I wrote some quite rude letters which in the end got dyslexia accepted as something that does happened in some students at Oxford.”
“Seeing 3D structures from a 2D drawing is one of the things that makes dyslexics stand out.”