Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain scans predict children's reading ability

Date:
October 11, 2012
Source:
Stanford University
Summary:
New research can identify the neural structures associated with poor reading skills in young children, and could lead to an early warning system for struggling students.

Mother reading with her child.
Credit: Monkey Business / Fotolia

If a 7-year-old is breezing through the "Harry Potter" books, studies indicate that he or she will be a strong reader later in life. Conversely, if a 7-year-old is struggling with "The Cat in the Hat," that child will most likely struggle with reading going forward.

The study findings could eventually influence reading lessons for pre-elementary children, tailoring lesson plans to individual needs.

New research from Stanford shows that brain scans can identify the neural differences between these two children, and could one day lead to an early warning system for struggling students.

The researchers scanned the brain anatomy of 39 children once a year for three consecutive years. The students then took standardized tests to gauge their cognitive, language and reading skills.

In each case, the rate of development (measured by fractional anisotropy, or FA) in the white matter regions of the brain, which are associated with reading, accurately predicted their test scores.

Specifically, children with above-average reading skills exhibit an FA value in two types of nerve bundles -- the left hemisphere arcuate fasciculus and the left hemisphere inferior longitudinal fasciculus -- that is initially low, but increases over time. Children with lower reading skills initially have a high FA, but it declines over time.

The findings could eventually influence reading lessons for pre-elementary children. Previous studies have shown that a child's reading skills at age 7 can accurately predict reading skills 10 years down the road. A child who is struggling at 7 will most likely be a poor reader at age 17.

"By the time kids reach elementary school, we're not great at finding ways of helping them catch up," said Jason D. Yeatman, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Stanford and the lead author on the study.

The good news: Early screening could reveal which students are at risk; at an early age, the brain is plastic, and genes, environment and experiences can affect FA values.

"Once we have an accurate model relating the maturation of the brain's reading circuitry to children's acquisition of reading skills, and once we understand which factors are beneficial, I really think it will be possible to develop early intervention protocols for children who are poor readers, and tailor individualized lesson plans to emphasize good development," Yeatman said. "Over the next five to 10 years, that's what we're really hoping to do."

The research was published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Bjorn Carey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. D. Yeatman, R. F. Dougherty, M. Ben-Shachar, B. A. Wandell. PNAS Plus: Development of white matter and reading skills. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1206792109

Cite This Page:

Stanford University. "Brain scans predict children's reading ability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011102254.htm>.
Stanford University. (2012, October 11). Brain scans predict children's reading ability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011102254.htm
Stanford University. "Brain scans predict children's reading ability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121011102254.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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