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Dyslexic children`s brains operate more like those of normal readers following training

For the first time, researchers have shown that the brains of dyslexic children can be rewired - after undergoing intensive remediation training - to function more like those found in normal readers.

The training program, which is designed to help dyslexics understand rapidly changing sounds that are the building blocks of language, helped the participants become better readers after just eight weeks.

The findings were released Monday in ``Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI,`` published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

``It was very dramatic to see the huge differences that occurred in the brains of these children,`` said Stanford psychology Professor John Gabrieli, one of the study`s authors. ``The intervention, although substantial, only covered eight weeks. One note of optimism about the study is that such a limited intervention can have a substantial effect on reading scores.``

Brain imaging scans of the children who participated in the training showed that critical areas of the brain used for reading were activated for the first time, and that they began to function more normally. Furthermore, additional regions of the brain were activated in what the researchers believe the dyslexics may have used as a compensatory process as they learned to read more fluently.

Gabrieli said the study`s findings may help demonstrate how different kinds of reading programs can tackle various problems faced by poor readers. ``This is showing us for the first time the specific changes in the brains of children receiving this sort of treatment, and how that is coupled with the improvement they have in reading and language ability,`` he said. ``We`re hoping that this becomes an additional tool to understand how educational remediation programs alter children`s abilities, as they must do, by changing the way their brains process info
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Contact: John Gabrieli
gabrieli@stanford.edu
650-725-2430
Stanford University
24-Feb-2003


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