Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dyslexia: MRI Scan 'predicts when dyslexic will read'

The brain disorder makes it difficult for even very bright children to learn how to read and can be a lifelong source of frustration.

But according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), brain scans can predict the improvement of teenagers' reading skills, with up to 90 per cent accuracy.

"This study takes an important step toward realising the potential benefits of combining neuroscience and education research by showing how brain scanning measures are sensitive to individual differences that predict educationally relevant outcomes," said Bruce McCandliss, one of the lead authors of the study and a professor at Vanderbilt University.

The research found brain scan results to be significantly more accurate in predicting how well a dyslexic child ultimately reads than standardised reading tests or the child's behaviour.

"This approach opens up a new vantage point on the question of how children with dyslexia differ from one another in ways that translate into meaningful differences two to three years down the line," Prof McCandliss said.

He said the research raises the prospect of a future test that could help match dyslexic students with the most effective treatments.

"Such insights may be crucial for new educational research on how to best meet the individual needs of struggling readers," he said.

The research was primarily conducted by experts at the Stanford University School of Medicine, with help from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. and the University of York in the United Kingdom.

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