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


Study co-author Paula Tallal, professor of neuroscience at Rutgers University and a founder of Scientific Learning Corporation, the Oakland-based company that designed the program, said the findings are also important because it is the first time a commercial product has been proven scientifically to work using standardized educational testing and brain imaging. Scientific Learning`s computer program, Fast ForWord Language, focuses on helping children become more fluent at processing the rapidly changing sounds, she said.

``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 address the crisis we are facing in the number of children failing to meet [educational] standards,`` she said. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 places an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven scientifically to work.

Dyslexia, sometimes called ``word blindness,`` is a common disorder, affecting 5 to 10 percent of Americans, Gabrieli said. It is defined as a specific difficulty in reading that is severe enough to interfere with academic functioning and cannot be accounted for by lack of educational opportunities, personal motivation or problems in sight or sound. Tallal said that studies estimate that about 40 percent of people with dyslexia inherit it genetically. Other factors believed to trigger the disorder include prematurity at birth, developmental language impairment and attention deficits, she said.

Dyslexics have trouble 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 the sounds out of words is what is called phonological awareness. We have to be aware that wo

Contact: John Gabrieli
Stanford University

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