Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spotting dyslexia before a child starts school

Date:
January 26, 2012
Source:
Children's Hospital Boston
Summary:
Children at risk for dyslexia show differences in brain activity on MRI scans even before they begin learning to read, finds a new study. Since developmental dyslexia responds to early intervention, diagnosing children at risk before or during kindergarten could head off difficulties and frustration in school, the researchers say.

Children at risk for dyslexia show differences in brain activity on MRI scans even before they begin learning to read, finds a study at Children's Hospital Boston. Since developmental dyslexia responds to early intervention, diagnosing children at risk before or during kindergarten could head off difficulties and frustration in school, the researchers say. Findings appear this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles


Developmental dyslexia(dyslexia that's not caused by brain trauma) affects 5 to 17 percent of all children; up to 1 in 2 children with a family history of dyslexia will struggle with reading themselves, experiencing poor spelling and decoding abilities and difficulties with fluent word recognition. Because of problems recognizing and manipulating the underlying sound structures of words (known as phonological processing), children with dyslexia have difficulty mapping oral sounds to written language.

The Children's Hospital Boston researchers, led by Nora Raschle, PhD, of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, performed functional MRI imaging in 36 preschool-age children (average age, 5½) while they performed tasks requiring them to decide whether two words started with the same speech sound. They used an elaborate protocolto get these young children to hold still in the MRI scanner.

During the phonological tasks, children with a family history of dyslexia had reduced metabolic activity in certain brain regions (the junctions between the occipital and temporal lobes and the temporal and parietal lobes in the back of the brain) when compared with controls matched for age, IQ and socioeconomic status.

"We already know that older children and adults with dyslexia have dysfunction in the same brain regions," says senior investigator Nadine Gaab, PhD, also of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience. "What this study tells us is that the brain's ability to process language sounds is deficient even before children have reading instruction."

In both the at-risk and control groups, children with high activation in these brain areas had better pre-reading skills, such as rhyming, knowing letters and letter sounds, knowing when two words start with the same sound, and being able to separate sounds within a word (like saying "cowboy" without the "cow").

The children at risk for dyslexia showed no increase in activation of frontal brain regions, as has been seen in older children and adults with dyslexia. This suggests that these regions become active only when children begin reading instruction, as the brain tries to compensate for other deficits.

Studies have shown that children with dyslexia often have negative experiences in school, being labeled as lazy or unmotivated. Their frustration can lead to aggressive, impulsive and anti-social behaviors and an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school and entering the juvenile justice system.

"We hope that identifying children at risk for dyslexia around preschool or even earlier may help reduce the negative social and psychological consequences these kids often face," says Raschle.

While various neuropsychological interventions are available for dyslexia, the condition generally isn't diagnosed until the child has reached third grade, when they are less effective, Gaab adds.

"Families often know that their child has dyslexia as early as kindergarten, but they can't get interventions at their schools," she says. "If we can show that we can identify these kids early, schools may be encouraged to develop programs."

Gaab and Raschle plan to follow the children over time to see if the brain patterns they observed correlate with a later diagnosis of dyslexia They just received a large NIH grant to extend their study, and are actively enrolling preschool-aged children (for information on enrollment, contact the Gaab lab.

Jennifer Zuk, M.Ed., also of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Children's, was a coauthor on the paper. The study was funded by the Charles H. Hood Foundation, a Children's Hospital Boston pilot grant, the Swiss National Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Janggen-Pöhn Stiftung.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's Hospital Boston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. M. Raschle, J. Zuk, N. Gaab. Functional characteristics of developmental dyslexia in left-hemispheric posterior brain regions predate reading onset. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107721109

Cite This Page:

Children's Hospital Boston. "Spotting dyslexia before a child starts school." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123152510.htm>.
Children's Hospital Boston. (2012, January 26). Spotting dyslexia before a child starts school. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123152510.htm
Children's Hospital Boston. "Spotting dyslexia before a child starts school." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120123152510.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) — We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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