Happy Kids

Most people assume that signs of learning disorders like dyslexia are apparent only after a child enters school and begins to learn. However, a study by experts at Children’s Hospital Boston has revealed that kids who are likely to develop dyslexia may show alterations in brain activity on MRI scans prior to them learning how to read.

Almost 36 preschool-aged children underwent MRI imaging, while they were performing tasks requiring them to comprehend whether 2 words began with identical speech sounds. As per the results, children coming from a family background of dyslexia apparently manifested decreased metabolic activity in specific brain portions, as compared to the control group.

Senior investigator Nadine Gaab, PhD, also of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, cited, “We already know that older children and adults with dyslexia have dysfunction in the same brain regions. What this study tells us is that the brain’s ability to process language sounds is deficient even before children have reading instruction.”

Moreover, both in the at-risk and control group, kids with high activity in frontal brain areas related to learning seemed to exhibit enhanced pre-reading skills, like rhyming and identifying 2 words beginning with the same sound.

Children who were considered to be at risk for dyslexia appeared to have decreased activation in the frontal brain portions, as observed in older children and adults who are dyslexic. This implied that these regions tend to be activated only when kids start reading instructions, while the brain begins to compensate for other defects.

The team is hopeful that identifying dyslexia in kids at an initial stage could help schools incorporate supportive programs for these kids. The study is published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.