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Researchers use brain imaging to predict which dyslexics will learn to read

In a study involving older children with dyslexia, researchers have shown for the first time the specific brain mechanisms involved in a patient's ability to overcome reading difficulties. The researchers, as described in a paper appearing online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were also able to use sophisticated neuroimaging to predict with 90 percent accuracy which of the teenagers would improve their reading skills within two-and-a-half years.

Why is the work important? "This gives us hope that we can identify which children might get better over time,” Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD, an imaging expert and instructor at Stanford’s Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, recently told me. And as I explain in a release, the findings not only suggest that brain imaging could be used as a prognostic tool for predicting reading improvement someday, but they hint at the potential role of imaging in developing therapies:

The research shows that gains in reading for dyslexic children involve different neural mechanisms and pathways than those for typically developing children. By understanding this, researchers could develop interventions that focus on the appropriate regions of the brain and that are, in turn, more effective at improving a child’s reading skills.

Photo by ckaroli

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