Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rutgers Researcher: Brains In Dyslexic Children Can Be 'Rewired' To Improve Reading Skills

Date:
March 5, 2003
Source:
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
Summary:
In a scientific first, researchers have shown that the brains of dyslexic children can be "rewired" through intensive remedial training to function more like those found in normal readers.

(NEWARK) – In a scientific first, researchers have shown that the brains of dyslexic children can be "rewired" through intensive remedial training to function more like those found in normal readers.

Paula Tallal, Board of Governors Professor of Neuroscience at Rutgers-Newark, and other members of a multi-university research team used brain-imaging scans of dyslexic children to demonstrate that areas of the brain critical to reading skills became activated for the first time and began to function more normally after only eight weeks of special training. In addition, other regions of the brain also lit up on the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans in a compensatory process that the dyslexics may have used as they learned to read more fluently.

The researchers' groundbreaking findings were published Feb. 24 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. The other authors include faculty from Stanford and Cornell universities, the University of California's Los Angeles and San Francisco campuses, and one of the co-founders of Oakland-based Scientific Learning Corporation.

Dyslexia, sometimes called "word blindness," is a disorder that affects 5 to 10 percent of Americans, and is characterized by difficulties in processing language. Usually these problems are severe enough to interfere with performance in school, but they cannot be attributed to a poor education, personal motivation, or impaired sight or hearing.

The investigators, working at Stanford, extensively used Fast ForWord Language, a computer program designed by Tallal and other researchers at Scientific Learning Corporation. The program focuses on helping children become more adept at processing the rapidly changing sounds inside words. A dyslexic child may, for example, have difficulties distinguishing between letters that rhyme, such as B and D.

"If you hear the sound 'ba' in 'butter' and 'da' in 'Doug,' the only way we know the difference is in the first 40 milliseconds of the onset of those sounds," Tallal explained. "The ability to extract sounds out of words is what is called phonological awareness." Words can be broken into sounds, and these sounds have to be mentally connected with letters. Although the process might seem intuitive, it is actually a learned skill, Tallal said.

One portion of the study involved asking children if two letters of the alphabet rhymed, while their brains were imaged with fMRI scans. The scans of the 20 dyslexic children in the experiment – who struggled with the task – contrasted sharply with those of the 12 normal readers in the experiment's control group. The dyslexics' scans showed a lack of activity in the language-critical temporal regions of the brain.

The training program, which included dyslexic children aged 8 to 12 years, was designed to help them learn to process and interpret the very rapid sequence of sounds within words and sentences by exaggerating them and slowing them down.

"These are the building blocks you have to have in place before you can learn to read," Tallal said. "I think Fast ForWord is building the scaffolding for reading, and doing it based on scientific knowledge of the most efficient and effective way of helping the brain learn."

The dyslexic children used the Fast ForWord Language computer program for 100 minutes a day, five days a week, as part of their regular school day. The program consisted of seven exercises adapted as computer games. In one exercise, for example, when a picture of a boy and a toy was shown, a voice from the computer asked the player to point to the boy – a step that required understanding the very brief difference in the sound of each word's first consonant.

"Each child worked at his or her own level," Tallal said. The goal was to have the children process sounds correctly in words and sentences of increasing length and grammatical complexity, she added. The study's authors emphasized that continuous intervention would be necessary to make the dyslexics' improvements in reading skills stick and advance.

"In light of President [George W.] Bush's legislation, 'No Child Left Behind,' which mandates that only scientifically validated applications be used for intervening with children, this program has the potential to help address the crisis we are facing in the large number of children failing to meet [educational] standards," Tallal observed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Researcher: Brains In Dyslexic Children Can Be 'Rewired' To Improve Reading Skills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080653.htm>.
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. (2003, March 5). Rutgers Researcher: Brains In Dyslexic Children Can Be 'Rewired' To Improve Reading Skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080653.htm
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. "Rutgers Researcher: Brains In Dyslexic Children Can Be 'Rewired' To Improve Reading Skills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030305080653.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins