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Dyslexia brain research: universal applications. (Curriculum update: the latest developments in math, science, language arts and social studies).

There's a new reason for districts to offer the best reading instruction for early readers and to identify disabilities when children begin school. Through functional magnetic resonance imaging technology, researchers in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale University have identified a disruption in the neural circuitry for reading in the brains of dyslexic children.

Published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the study examined the brain wiring of 144 children from ages 7-18 and included both good readers and those with reading disabilities. The research links to a 1998 study of adults, which showed the same disruption and left researchers questioning how long it had existed. "We now can show that there is [early on] a glitch in the wiring--that it persists and that it affects those areas involved in reading fluently," says Sally Shaywitz, a professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine and co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention.

Shaywitz co-authored the study with her husband, Bennett Shaywitz, a Yale Child Study Center professor of pediatrics and neurology. "Dyslexic children can't use the highly specialized area [of the brain] that is activated in good readers," he says. They can learn to read more accurately over time because they use other regions of the brain to compensate, but they remain slow readers.

"Many people have this view that kids will outgrow problems. If you see a child struggling to read early on, you have to do something. It's not going to go away," says Sally Shaywitz. "Children need to read early on and have practice in reading actively. That depends on good early reading programs." To help districts in finding quality programs, she served on the National Reading Panel and currently chairs a No Child Left Behind grant review group.

Other recent dyslexia research by University College London found strong evidence that its underlying neurological cause is an inability to detect amplitude-based cues that signal vowels. "Dyslexic children find it much more difficult to identify which words rhyme and which do not, says lead researcher Usha Goswami. "This requires identifying the onset of the vowel: for example, the difference between `fit' and `fat.'" Testing the rhythmic abilities in dyslexic and non-dyslexic children, he says, could impact dyslexia detection and treatment. * www-east.elsevier.com/bps/bpsline.htm
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Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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