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BY Ellen Rolfes Rebecca Kamen’s sculptures appear as delicate as the brain itself. Thin, green branches stretch from a colorful mass of vein-like filaments. The branches, made from pieces of translucent mylar and stained with diluted acrylic paint, are so delicate that they sway slightly when mounted to the wall. Perched on various parts of the sculpture are mylar butterflies, whose wings also move, as if fluttering. One of Kamen's influences is the writing of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is called the "father of modern neuroscience." Cajal once said: “Like the entomologist in search of colorful butterflies, my attention has chased in the gardens of the grey matter cells with delicate and elegant shapes, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose beating of wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind." One of Kamen’s artistic influences is the writing of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is called the “father of modern neuroscience.” The work, called “Butterflies of the Soul” was inspired by neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who won the 1906 Nobel Prize, for his groundbreaking work on the human nervous system. Kamen’s sculpture is a nod to his work and the development of modern neuroscience. Cajal’s observation of the cells under the microscope radically changed how scientists study the brain and its functions, Kamen said. And the butterflies in her sculpture represent Cajal’s drawings of Purkinje cells, which are found in the cerebellar cortex at the base of the brain. Purkinje cells play an important role in motor control and in certain cognitive functions, such as attention and language. And attention and language are skills of great interest to Kamen, who has dyslexia. Her fascination with the brain and its structure deepened when she discovered that she was dyslexic later in life. © 1996 - 2014 MacNeil / Lehrer Productions.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 19503 - Posted: 04.17.2014

Helen Shen Dyslexia may be caused by impaired connections between auditory and speech centres of the brain, according to a study published today in Science1. The research could help to resolve conflicting theories about the root causes of the disorder, and lead to targeted interventions. When people learn to read, their brains make connections between written symbols and components of spoken words. But people with dyslexia seem to have difficulty identifying and manipulating the speech sounds to be linked to written symbols. Researchers have long debated whether the underlying representations of these sounds are disrupted in the dyslexic brain, or whether they are intact but language-processing centres are simply unable to access them properly. A team led by Bart Boets, a clinical psychologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, analysed brain scans and found that phonetic representations of language remain intact in adults with dyslexia, but may be less accessible than in controls because of deficits in brain connectivity. "The authors took a really inventive and thoughtful approach," says John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "They got a pretty clear answer." Communication channels Boets and his team used a technique called multivoxel pattern analysis to study fine-scale brain signals as people listened to a battery of linguistic fragments such as 'ba' and 'da'. To the researchers' surprise, neural activity in the primary and secondary auditory cortices of participants with dyslexia showed consistently distinct signals for different sounds. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 19007 - Posted: 12.06.2013

By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online Brain scans may allow detection of dyslexia in pre-school children even before they start to read, say researchers. A US team found tell-tale signs on scans that have already been seen in adults with the condition. And these brain differences could be a cause rather than a consequence of dyslexia - something unknown until now - the Journal of Neuroscience reports. Scans could allow early diagnosis and intervention, experts hope. The part of the brain affected is called the arcuate fasciculus. Among the 40 school-entry children they studied they found some had shrinkage of this brain region, which processes word sounds and language. They asked the same children to do several different types of pre-reading tests, such as trying out different sounds in words. Those children with a smaller arcuate fasciculus had lower scores. It is too early to say if the structural brain differences found in the study are a marker of dyslexia. The researchers plan to follow up groups of children as they progress through school to determine this. Lead researcher Prof John Gabrieli said: "We don't know yet how it plays out over time, and that's the big question. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 18505 - Posted: 08.14.2013

By Michele Solis Attention training might trump language practice in treating dyslexia, and video games might provide just that, according to a recent study in Current Biology. Researchers at the University of Padua in Italy found that 10 kids with dyslexia who played an action-filled video game for nine 80-minute sessions increased their reading speed, without introducing mistakes. These reading gains lasted at least two months and outpaced gains measured in 10 children with dyslexia who played a nonaction version of the same game, as well as trumping the expected improvement that naturally occurs in a year for a child with dyslexia. Though small, the study bolsters evidence that dyslexia stems in part from problems in focusing attention onto letters and words in an orderly way. Last year the same team reported that preschoolers who struggled to quickly and accurately shift their attention—which can be thought of as a spotlight—were likely to have reading difficulties three years later. Because action video games require players to constantly redirect their attention to different targets, neuroscientist Simone Gori and his colleagues thought the video games might fine-tune that spotlight so as to avoid jumbling letters on a page. The training honed visual attention skills and reading hand in hand, and the reading improvements even exceeded those obtained in children after traditional therapies for dyslexia, which focus on building language skills. Gori does not advocate abandoning the older methods but says that training visual attention could be a vital, overlooked component. He also notes that kids are prone to quit traditional dyslexia therapies, which he says can be demanding and even boring; not a problem in his video-game experiment. “Our difficulty was in getting the kids to stop playing,” Gori says. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 18450 - Posted: 08.03.2013

By Bruce Bower Children with dyslexia may read better after playing action video games that stress mayhem, not literacy, a contested study suggests. Playing fast-paced Wii video games for 12 hours over two weeks markedly increased the reading speed of 7- to 13-year-old kids with dyslexia, with no loss of reading accuracy, says a team led by psychologist Andrea Facoetti of the University of Padua, Italy. Reading gains lasted at least two months after the video game sessions. The gains matched or exceeded previously reported effects of reading-focused programs for dyslexia, the researchers report online February 28 in Current Biology. “These results are clear enough to say that action video games are able to improve reading abilities in children with dyslexia,” Facoetti says. Although the new study includes only 20 children with dyslexia, its results build on earlier evidence that many poor readers have difficulty focusing on items within arrays, Facoetti holds. By strengthening the ability to monitor central and peripheral objects in chaotic scenes, he says, action video games give kids with dyslexia a badly needed tool for tracking successive letters in written words. But evidence for Facoetti’s conclusions is shaky, asserts psychologist Nicola Brunswick of Middlesex University in London. The researchers tested word reading ability two months later but failed to test reading comprehension, she says. What’s more, they did so with a mere six of 10 kids who played the action video games. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17858 - Posted: 03.02.2013

Regina Nuzzo People with dyslexia are often taught to work through reading by ‘slowing down and sounding it out’. Results from a computerized training program, however, suggest that ‘hurrying up and getting on with it’ might be a better practice. Accelerated training could improve both reading fluency and comprehension, with lasting benefits. The training protocol speeds up reading by displaying a sentence and then systematically erasing it, letter by letter, in the direction of reading. It then asks questions to test the reader's comprehension. If the questions are answered correctly, the software moves on to the next sentence but gives the reader 2 milliseconds — the duration of an eyeblink — less reading time per letter. “We essentially tell the brain, ‘Hey, you can do better,’” says Zvia Breznitz, a psychologist at the University of Haifa in Israel and lead author of the study. “We slowly break the cycle of bad reading.” After training with the programme for three 20-minute sessions per week for two months, students with dyslexia read about 25% faster than before and comprehended more, even when allowed to read at their own pace. Their test scores ended up statistically indistinguishable from those of typical readers who had not gone through training, and the gains were still apparent six months after training ended. Typical readers also benefited from the training, but their gains were neither as significant nor as long-lasting as the dyslexics'. The findings are published today in Nature Communications1. “The results are exciting,” says Guinevere Eden, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University in Washington DC. Dyslexia is thought to affect between 5 and 10% of the world’s population2, but there is no gold-standard method for treating it. © 2013 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17799 - Posted: 02.13.2013

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor Most of us take the ability to read and write for granted. For some, however, these fundamental skills are difficult to master. Sadly, factors associated with the variety of symptoms that contribute to a diagnosis of dyslexia have remained obscure. New research may change this picture as researchers announce a major advancement toward understanding the cause of dyslexia. Neuroscientist Begoña Díaz, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, have discovered an important neural mechanism underlying dyslexia. They believe problems arise in the part of the brain called the medial geniculate body in the thalamus. Experts believe this discovery can provide the basis for developing potential treatments for the condition. People who suffer from dyslexia have difficulties with identifying speech sounds in spoken language. For example, while most children are able to recognize whether two words rhyme even before they go to school, dyslexic children often cannot do this until late primary school age. Most people suffer from dyslexia for their whole lives although many learn to compensate. Experts say that between five and 10 percent of children suffer from dyslexia, yet very little is known about its causes. © 1992-2012 Psych Central

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17143 - Posted: 08.11.2012

By ANNIE MURPHY PAUL THE word “dyslexia” evokes painful struggles with reading, and indeed this learning disability causes much difficulty for the estimated 15 percent of Americans affected by it. Since the phenomenon of “word blindness” was first documented more than a century ago, scientists have searched for the causes of dyslexia, and for therapies to treat it. In recent years, however, dyslexia research has taken a surprising turn: identifying the ways in which people with dyslexia have skills that are superior to those of typical readers. The latest findings on dyslexia are leading to a new way of looking at the condition: not just as an impediment, but as an advantage, especially in certain artistic and scientific fields. Dyslexia is a complex disorder, and there is much that is still not understood about it. But a series of ingenious experiments have shown that many people with dyslexia possess distinctive perceptual abilities. For example, scientists have produced a growing body of evidence that people with the condition have sharper peripheral vision than others. Gadi Geiger and Jerome Lettvin, cognitive scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, used a mechanical shutter, called a tachistoscope, to briefly flash a row of letters extending from the center of a subject’s field of vision out to its perimeter. Typical readers identified the letters in the middle of the row with greater accuracy. Those with dyslexia triumphed, however, when asked to identify letters located in the row’s outer reaches. Mr. Geiger and Mr. Lettvin’s findings, which have been confirmed in several subsequent studies, provide a striking demonstration of the fact that the brain separately processes information that streams from the central and the peripheral areas of the visual field. Moreover, these capacities appear to trade off: if you’re adept at focusing on details located in the center of the visual field, which is key to reading, you’re likely to be less proficient at recognizing features and patterns in the broad regions of the periphery. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 16364 - Posted: 02.11.2012

Regardless of high or low overall scores on an IQ test, children with dyslexia show similar patterns of brain activity, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health. The results call into question the discrepancy model — the practice of classifying a child as dyslexic on the basis of a lag between reading ability and overall IQ scores. In many school systems, the discrepancy model is the criterion for determining whether a child will be provided with specialized reading instruction. With the discrepancy model, children with dyslexia and lower-than-average IQ scores may not be classified as learning disabled and so may not be eligible for special educational services to help them learn to read. "The study results indicate that the discrepancy model is not a valid basis for allocating special educational services in reading," said Brett Miller, Ph.D. The study findings were published online in Psychological Science. The study was conducted by Fumiko Hoeft, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University. Originally, the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act required the use of the discrepancy model to identify those students who needed assistance for a learning disability. In the 1990s, studies showed that children who had difficulty learning to read had difficulty with phonological awareness — matching printed letters of the alphabet to the speech sounds that those letters represented. Based on these findings, the reauthorization of the Act dropped the requirement that school systems use the discrepancy model. Many school systems, however, retained the discrepancy model as a means to classify students needing special educational services in reading.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15983 - Posted: 11.05.2011

By Jennifer Nalewicki After years of fumbling while reading the written word, Christian Boer, a graphic designer from the Netherlands, has developed a way to help tackle his dyslexia. The 30-year-old created a font called Dyslexie that has proved to decrease the number of errors made by dyslexics while reading. The font works by tweaking the appearance of certain letters of the alphabet that dyslexics commonly misconstrue, such as "d" and "b," to make them more recognizable. This month Boer released the font in English for U.S. users to purchase online. Boer began designing the font in 2008 while studying at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. It eventually became his graduate school project. In December 2010 a fellow student conducted an independent study on the font as part of a master's thesis and discovered a significant reduction in reading errors by dyslexics when reading Dutch text typed in Dyslexie as opposed to the Arial font. Boer's research could likewise have a big impact on English speakers, given the prevalence of dyslexia when reading that language, as compared with Italian, whose words are pronounced more closely to how they are spelled. In the U.S. one out of every five persons is dyslexic, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unlike other readers, dyslexics have a tendency to rotate, swap and mirror letters, making it difficult for them to comprehend what they’re reading. For years it was thought that dyslexia was a vision problem, but scientists now know that the condition stems from the brain. Scans of dyslexic brains show that there are structural differences—including in the thalamus, which serves an information way station—when compared with other brains. Some dyslexics even see letters as suspended 3-D animations that twist before their eyes. "I perceived letters floating like balloons in my head," Boer says. As a means to finally "tie down" these balloons, Boer dedicated his time and graphic design skills to come up with Dyslexie. © 2011 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15951 - Posted: 10.27.2011

By PAM BELLUCK Many people consider dyslexia simply a reading problem in which children mix up letters and misconstrue written words. But increasingly scientists have come to believe that the reading difficulties of dyslexia are part of a larger puzzle: a problem with how the brain processes speech and puts together words from smaller units of sound. Now, a study published last week in the journal Science suggests that how dyslexics hear language may be more important than previously realized. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that people with dyslexia have more trouble recognizing voices than those without dyslexia. John Gabrieli, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, and Tyler Perrachione, a graduate student, asked people with and without dyslexia to listen to recorded voices paired with cartoon avatars on computer screens. The subjects tried matching the voices to the correct avatars speaking English and then an unfamiliar language, Mandarin. Nondyslexics matched voices to avatars correctly almost 70 percent of the time when the language was English and half the time when the language was Mandarin. But people with dyslexia were able to do so only half the time, whether the language was English or Mandarin. Experts not involved in the study said that was a striking disparity. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 15640 - Posted: 08.02.2011

When people recognize voices, part of what helps make voice recognition accurate is noticing how people pronounce words differently. But individuals with dyslexia don't experience this familiar language advantage, say researchers. The likely reason: "phonological impairment." Tyler Perrachione with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains, "Even though all people who speak a language use the same words, they say those words just a little bit differently from one another--what is called 'phonetics' in linguistics." Phonetics is concerned with the physical properties of speech. Listeners are sensitive to phonetic differences as part of what makes a person's voice unique. But individuals with dyslexia have trouble recognizing these phonetic differences, whether a person is speaking a familiar language or a foreign one, Perrachione says. As a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at MIT, Perrachione recently examined the impacts of phonological impairment through experiments funded by the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Education and Human Resources. He and colleague Stephanie Del Tufo as well as Perrachione's MIT research advisor John Gabrieli hypothesized that if voice recognition by human listeners relies on phonological knowledge, then listeners with dyslexia would be impaired when identifying voices speaking their native language as compared to listeners without dyslexia. © 2011 U.S.News & World Report LP

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 15626 - Posted: 07.30.2011

By Carolyn Y. Johnson WALTHAM — Lights dimmed, a hush fell over the hallway as Nicole Porter, cradling Ava in her arms, walked gingerly toward the powerful imaging equipment that would allow researchers to peer into her baby’s developing brain. Porter had spent hours coaxing Ava to sleep so she would lie still in the noisy scanner. Then, at the last minute, Ava’s eyes fluttered open and she gazed at the colorful ceiling. The experiment would have to start over. It was another frustrating moment in the difficult process of studying the brain during early development. Nothing was wrong with Ava; the 11-month-old from Boston was part of a study that uses brain imaging to see if early hallmarks of dyslexia can be seen years before children have trouble reading. Scientists believe that if they can identify nascent disorders such as dyslexia or autism earlier, and get a jump on therapy, they might eventually be able to prevent children from developing problems later. “We know many important pediatric disorders start to emerge early on, and some things, for example dyslexia, you might not pick up until they’re reading. But you know their brain has probably started to diverge from normal in some way early on,’’ said Dr. P. Ellen Grant of Children’s Hospital Boston, who is leading the study with Nadine Gaab, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s. The research is being done at the hospital’s Waltham clinic. © 2011 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 15338 - Posted: 05.17.2011

By Gareth Cook For more than 15 years, I have had a secret. My wife knows. My family knows, as do a few close friends. But what would my co-workers think? My editors? My sources on the science beat? more stories like this When I imagine them knowing, I can't get an image out of my head: My seventh-grade English teacher, glaring at me, with a look that needed no words. You are lazy and stupid, Gareth. Why are you even wasting my time? I am dyslexic. Reading is slow for me. If I try to read aloud, it is halting, even with children's books. I can't spell. I was never able to learn cursive, and I am virtually unable to take handwritten notes while someone is talking. If it weren't for a strange quirk in the disorder -- I can type notes and listen -- I could never have hidden my struggles at work, because I wouldn't be able to do my job at all. In the last few months, there has been a burst of interest in dyslexia, with cover stories in Time and Newsweek inspired by a new book, Overcoming Dyslexia. The author, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, is one of a group of scientists who have made tremendous progress in understanding the disorder over the last few years. © 2011 NY Times Co.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 14851 - Posted: 01.11.2011

by Greg Miller For children with dyslexia, reading doesn't come naturally, and only about 20% of them grow into normal readers by adulthood. No one knows why this is, and standard reading tests can't predict which kids will outgrow their reading problems. But brain scans can, according to a new study. The researchers say their findings provide clues about the neurobiology of dyslexia and could one day help educators identify students who could benefit from more intensive help. Neuroscientist Fumiko Hoeft of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain activity during reading in 45 children between the ages of 7 and 16, of whom 25 had dyslexia. After 2.5 years, the same children returned to the lab to take a battery of standardized reading tests. Then the researchers went back to the brain scans to see if there were differences in the kids with dyslexia who had made the biggest improvements. And indeed there were. Inside the scanner, participants had seen pairs of words flashed on a screen and been asked to indicate whether they rhymed. Children with dyslexia take longer and make more mistakes, especially when different spellings produce a rhyme, as in "gate" and "bait." To analyze brain activity evoked by this task, Hoeft's group used a method called multivariate pattern analysis, a statistical technique for comparing patterns of activation across the entire brain (Science, 13 June 2008, p. 1412). The patterns predicted with 92% accuracy which dyslexic kids exhibited above or below average gains in reading over the next 2.5 years, the researchers report online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This particular type of analysis doesn't reveal which brain regions are responsible, however. © 2010 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 14808 - Posted: 12.22.2010

Children who are poor readers appear to have a disruption in the part of their brain involved in reading phonetically, according to a sophisticated brain imaging study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The study also found that children who read poorly but who do not receive any extra help or training eventually compensate for their disability by using other parts of the brain as backup systems for the impaired brain regions. Although most of these children eventually do learn to read, they never do so with the same fluency as do good readers. This is probably because the "backup" brain systems they use when reading apparently cannot process printed information as easily as can the brain systems primarily involved in reading. The researchers, led by Bennett Shaywitz, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, published their results in the July Biological Psychiatry.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 2422 - Posted: 06.24.2010

About five million Germans have serious learning difficulties when it comes to reading and writing. It is frequently the case that several members of the same family are affected. So hereditary disposition seems to play an important role in the occurrence of dyslexia. Scientists at the universities of Marburg, Wrzburg and Bonn have been working on this question together with Swedish colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. In examinations of German children with serious reading and writing difficulties they have now succeeded in demonstrating for the first time the contribution of a specific gene. Precisely how it contributes to the disorder remains unclear. It is thought that the genes may affect the migration of nerve cells in the brain as it evolves. The results will be published in the January edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics, but have already been made available online (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG). For several years child and youth psychologists at the universities of Marburg and Wrzburg searched for families in which at least one child was considered dyslexic. "We then analysed blood samples taken from the families to identify candidate genes – and in the end we found the right one," explains the scientist who headed this part of the study from Marburg, Privatdozent Dr. Gerd Schulte-Körne.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 8111 - Posted: 06.24.2010

By BRENT BOWERS It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought. The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she had surveyed — 35 percent — identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses. “We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills,” Professor Logan said in an interview. “If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you’ll hear over and over, ‘It won’t work. It can’t be done.’ But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems.” The study was based on a survey of 139 business owners in a wide range of fields across the United States. Professor Logan called the number who said they were dyslexic “staggering,” and said it was significantly higher than the 20 percent of British entrepreneurs who said they were dyslexic in a poll she conducted in 2001. Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 11052 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study was published in the Dec. 10, 2009, issue of Neuron. "We have known that behavioral training can enhance brain function." said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "The exciting breakthrough here is detecting changes in brain connectivity with behavioral treatment. This finding with reading deficits suggests an exciting new approach to be tested in the treatment of mental disorders, which increasingly appear to be due to problems in specific brain circuits." For the study, Timothy Keller, Ph.D., and Marcel Just, Ph.D., both of Carnegie Mellon University, randomly assigned 35 poor readers ages 8–12, to an intensive, remedial reading program, and 12 to a control group that received normal classroom instruction. For comparison, the researchers also included 25 children of similar age who were rated as average or above-average readers by their teachers. The average readers also received only normal classroom instruction. Four remedial reading programs were offered, but few differences in reading improvements were seen among them. As such, results for participants in these programs were evaluated as a group. All of the programs were given over a six month schooling period, for five days a week in 50-minute sessions (100 hours total), with three students per teacher. The focus of these programs was improving readers’ ability to decode unfamiliar words.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 13556 - Posted: 06.24.2010

Researchers trying to tease out the genetic basis of dyslexia have discovered a location on chromosome 2 that may contain one or more genes that contribute to the reading disorder and make it difficult for people to rapidly pronounce pseudowords. The team from the University of Washington, headed by medical geneticists Dr. Wendy Raskind and Ellen Wijsman and developmental psychologist Virginia Berninger, cautioned that the new findings do not mean that scientists have found "the gene" responsible for dyslexia. "Just as with heart disease, no single gene will provide the answer to what causes dyslexia," said Raskind. "When you look at something that is inherited there could be multiple genes, perhaps as many as a hundred, that contribute to it. And when you look at any characteristic of a person, you must consider the environmental background. There are other factors besides genes that could modify a behavior." The study, published in the March issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry, is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it points to a new location containing genes that contribute to dyslexia. Second, the gene or genes at that location are involved in speed of decoding – changing written words into spoken words without clues to their meaning – a basic and persistent component of dyslexia.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 7119 - Posted: 06.24.2010