-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Brain scans of teenagers
with dyslexia can identify with 90 percent accuracy which ones will
improve their reading skills over time, a new study finds.
Dyslexia, a learning disability that impairs the ability to
read, affects 5 to 17 percent of children in the United States. The
ability to improve their reading skills varies greatly.
This research may be the first to pinpoint specific brain
mechanisms that play a role in a person's ability to overcome
reading problems and could lead to new ways to help dyslexics
better learn to read, said the Stanford University School of
"This gives us hope that we can identify which children might get better over time. More study is needed before the technique is clinically useful, but this is a huge step forward," study first author Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, an imaging expert and instructor at Stanford's Center of Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, said in a university news release.
The researchers used functional MRI and a specialized type of
MRI called diffusion tensor imaging to monitor brain activity in 25
teens with dyslexia and 20 teens with normal reading skills as they
did reading tasks. All the participants were about 14 years
The teens were assessed again 2.5 years later. Among the teens
with dyslexia, greater improvements in reading skills were seen in
those whose earlier brain scans showed greater activation in the
right inferior frontal gyrus during a specific reading task and
whose white matter connected to the right frontal region in a more
In addition, the researchers found that analyzing patterns of
activation across the entire brain enabled them to very accurately
predict future reading gains in the teens with dyslexia.
The reason this is exciting is that until now, there have been
no known measures that predicted who will learn to compensate, said
Hoeft in the news release.
The study appears online Dec. 20 in the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
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