Dyslexics not doomed to life of reading difficulties

h through sixth grade dyslexic children.

Aylward, a UW professor of radiology, said that images of the brain regions required for reading showed areas that had been relatively inactive in dyslexics began to respond like those of normal readers following the intervention. In addition, dyslexic children's skills improved on standardized reading tests.

The researchers also unexpectedly found cross-language coding improvements. Some of the dyslexic children only received sound training, but the post-intervention imaging showed improved brain activation in areas associated with the meaning form as well as the sound form. Similarly, children given instruction in the meaning form exhibited increased brain activation in the sound form in addition to the meaning form. "Genes and neurons constrain learning, but instruction may exert effects on specific brain functions in specific brain regions," Aylward said. "Language has multiple components, each of which has a different biological basis and must be orchestrated in very precise ways in instructional interventions for students who are at-risk biologically for learning to read."

Raskin will outline the Learning Disabilities Center's effort to model the inheritance patterns and to map the location of genes involved in dyslexia. This multi-generational study of 111 families with at least one dyslexic child involves genetic material from 898 individuals.

"While we hope to identify more locations where reputed genes for dyslexia may reside, what is exciting is that the behavioral measures used as clues to find those gene locations are yielding instructional clues for effective treatment," Raskind said.

"All of this research indicates that just because there is a genetic basis to dyslexia, it doesn't mean dyslexics can't learn to read," said Berninger. They and their teachers have to work harder, but these children's brains can function normally with extra help."


Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington

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