Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    Special Reading Training Helps Dyslexia

    Improved Reading Skill Seen Soon After Intensive Instruction
    WebMD Health News

    July 21, 2003 -- Kids with dyslexia show different brain activity patterns than kids who read normally, but new research suggests these differences disappear after just a few weeks of reading instruction.

    The encouraging findings offer some of the best evidence yet that even limited special training can dramatically affect a dyslexic child's ability to learn to read.

    "Even though dyslexic children start out with some deficits in functional activity with regard to language, our message is that the brain can change," study co-author Todd L. Richards, PhD, tells WebMD. "New connections can form and these children can improve."

    Richards and University of Washington, Seattle, colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activation patterns among 10 children with dyslexia and 11 children who were normal readers. Though the patterns were very different at the start of the study, they were almost identical after the dyslexic children received just 28 hours of comprehensive reading instruction. The findings are reported in the July issue of the journal Neurology.

    A Common Learning Disability

    Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, with prevalence estimates ranging from a low of 7% of the population to a high of 20%. Earlier research has shown that people with dyslexia have abnormal levels of activity in brain regions connected with language.

    Dyslexia is marked by difficulty processing language sounds that can lead to consequences ranging from problems in reading comprehension to reduced reading and vocabulary skills.

    This is the first published study to assess the impact of treatment -- in this case, special reading instruction -- on brain activity patterns among dyslexic children. Tests administered during fMRI scanning measured the children's ability to process language sounds, a task dyslexic children have difficulty with.

    Another language skill, known as morphologic awareness, is known to be associated with reading disability and was found to be strongly associated with dyslexia. Morphologic awareness involves the understanding of how word parts contribute to their meaning. In the test, children were presented with two words and they had to decide if the first word contributed to the meaning of the second. The answer would be yes, for example, for the words "builder" and "build" and no for the words "corner" and "corn."

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares