Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Differences in brains of children with nonverbal learning disability

Date:
November 20, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
A researcher has discovered the first anatomical evidence that the brains of children with a nonverbal learning disability -- long considered a "pseudo" diagnosis -- may develop differently than the brains of other children.

A Michigan State University researcher has discovered the first anatomical evidence that the brains of children with a nonverbal learning disability -- long considered a "pseudo" diagnosis -- may develop differently than the brains of other children.

The finding, published in Child Neuropsychology, could ultimately help educators and clinicians better distinguish between -- and treat -- children with a nonverbal learning disability, or NLVD, and those with Asperger's, or high functioning autism, which is often confused with NLVD.

"Children with nonverbal learning disabilities and Asperger's can look very similar, but they can have very different reasons for why they behave the way they do," said Jodene Fine, assistant professor of school psychology in MSU's College of Education.

Understanding the biological differences in children with learning and behavioral challenges could help lead to more appropriate intervention strategies.

Children with nonverbal learning disability tend to have normal language skills but below average math skills and difficulty solving visual puzzles. Because many of these kids also show difficulty understanding social cues, some experts have argued that NVLD is related to high functioning autism -- which this latest study suggests may not be so.

Fine and Kayla Musielak, an MSU doctoral student in school psychology, studied about 150 children ages 8 to 18. Using MRI scans of the participants' brains, the researchers found that the children diagnosed with NVLD had smaller spleniums than children with other learning disorders such as Asperger's and ADHD, and children who had no learning disorders.

The splenium is part of the corpus callosum, a thick band of fibers in the brain that connects the left and right hemispheres and facilitates communication between the two sides. Interestingly, this posterior part of the corpus callosum serves the areas of the brain related to visual and spatial functioning.

In a second part of the study, the participants' brain activity was analyzed after they were shown videos in an MRI that portrayed both positive and negative examples of social interaction. (A typical example of a positive event was a child opening a desired birthday present with friend; a negative event included a child being teased by other children.)

The researchers found that the brains of children with nonverbal learning disability responded differently to the social interactions than the brains of children with high functioning autism, or HFA, suggesting the neural pathways that underlie those behaviors may be different.

"So what we have is evidence of a structural difference in the brains of children with NLVD and HFA, as well as evidence of a functional difference in the way their brains behave when they are presented with stimuli," Fine said.

While more research is needed to better understand how nonverbal learning disability fits into the family of learning disorders, Fine said her findings present "an interesting piece of the puzzle."

"I would say at this point we still don't have enough evidence to say NVLD is a distinct diagnosis, but I do think our research supports the idea that it might be," she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jodene Goldenring Fine, Kayla A. Musielak, Margaret Semrud-Clikeman. Smaller splenium in children with nonverbal learning disability compared to controls, high-functioning autism and ADHD. Child Neuropsychology, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1080/09297049.2013.854763

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Differences in brains of children with nonverbal learning disability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120133931.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, November 20). Differences in brains of children with nonverbal learning disability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120133931.htm
Michigan State University. "Differences in brains of children with nonverbal learning disability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120133931.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. 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:
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