“A Revolutionary Computer Programme…”

dyslexia-fast forword-neuron learning

One family, three children. The education psychologist was astonished by the positive results. As their father says“They’ve more of an interest in reading. Their comprehension is probably where they have most

Dyslexia, Home Programs, Fast ForWord, Reading Assistantexcelled.They no longer need learning support in school.” This article in The Independent shows what is possible.

 


Get Your Free Report on Dyslexia

In this report you will learn:

  • The Four Information Processing Skills Students Need to Learn Efficiently.
  • Why Good Language is Essential for Reading Well.
  • Why Phonics Matter AND What Other Essential Skills are Needed
  • Four Proven Neuroscience Principles to develop a “Reading Brain”
  • The latest research from universities such as Harvard and Stanford Universities on Poor Reading and Dyslexia.

 

Hard work commitment and a revolutionary computer programme helped the four Dunne children cope with dyslexia, writes Emma Nolan

It’s hard to believe that Albert Einstein and Leonardo DaVinci could have anything in common with Tom Cruise. Or even with Richard Branson, but they do. It’s the same thing they all have in common with the Dunne family from Kildare — they all have some form of dyslexia.

It’s estimated that dyslexia affects between six and eight per cent of the population, making it quite common. It is defined as a specific learning difficulty which makes it hard for some people to learn, write and spell correctly, despite their intelligence, motivation and education. John and Mary Dunne’s four children, Denis, 12, Kieran, 11, Brian, 9, and Maria, 7,were each assessed with a specific learning difficulty, making school and home life very difficult for all the family.

But a revolutionary computer programme has turned all their lives around. Because of their dyslexia, it was recommended that each Dunne child get 20 minutes’ reading support in school with a learning-support teacher, so they would not fall behind. “The kids read things differently; sometimes the words on the paper are jumbled up. Their brain doesn’t pick up the smaller words, like “the’ “a” and “and’ whereas they can pick up bigger words. Their reading would have been quite slow too and their comprehension wasn’t good at all. They could read a paragraph but then, because they read it at such a slow pace, you could ask them a question about it and they wouldn’t be able to answer it,” says Mary.   Knowing that the 20 minutes’ support a day wasn’t going to give her children all the assistance they required, Mary looked to the Internet for inspiration, and found a ground- breaking American programme for children with learning disabilities called Fast ForWord.

The programme — which involves a combination of at-home work with special software, plus assessment— helps improve short- and long-term memory, which is essential for word recognition. It improves students’ concentration and attention, allowing them to focus on a task. It also strengthens processing skills and improves sequencing.

Lessons are presented as fun games and as the child’s skills get stronger, the exercises get more complicated. Luckily for the Dunnes, John Kerins of Neuron Learning was running the programme from Cork and was able to give them a demonstration. “He said he’d put it on the computer for two weeks to see how we got on — some kids won’t take to it because it’s sometimes hard and very tedious. You have to sit for 50 minutes at a computer and go through a series of games, every day, five days of the week.(Editor’s note; now the time can be  30  minutes / 3 days a week).  We used to actually do it seven days because we might do a Saturday and Sunday and then take a day off during the week when they had something on after school,” said Mary.

Since beginning the programme, the children have gone from strength to strength. “Their attention has improved so much. I used to have to sit down at the kitchen table with them to do the homework. The next thing, I’d look up and one of them would have disappeared. I couldn’t even get up to cook the dinner because they’d be gone and that’d be it. They’d be all night just sitting looking at it,” recalls Mary. John, their dad, adds: “It’d take them an hour to write a paragraph. And they had this thing of’I can’t think. Whereas now, you give them the same essay and they want to write two pages, and there’s no giving out to them. They’ll actually go making up song lyrics. Denis would be good with his hands. he spends a lot of time chopping up timber and making stuff.”

Dyslexia is not a behavioural disorder but it can lead to disruptive behaviour. John says that Denis can sometimes get distracted: “If he heard a tractor passing, be might have got up out of his seat to have a look at it. But they can focus on things now. For example. yesterday Dennis had to make a paper airplane for school and it had to fly. He must have made three or four and he was still at it this morning. trying to get the paper airplanes to fly Whereas before. he would have made one and taken it to school whether it could fly or not: he says.

Before Fast ForWord, the children relied on their memory rather than on understanding and learning. Mary explains: ‘Maria would come home ‘with her English reader and she would be able to read the parents’ side of the page as well as her own because, when the teacher was reading it in school, she was memorising it— so she would have the whole book off. This was the way they’d get by. I noticed it when the boys were that age as well” John, who believes he is also dyslexic, found he did exactly the same in school doing extremely well during the Junior Cert when he could learn off everything in class. However, at Leaving Cert level, when study had to be done alone and on his own initiative, John was lucky to scrape a pass. Fortunately, his children have had some intervention, They don’t rely on memory as much,” John says. “They’ve more of an interest in reading. Their comprehension is probably where they most excelled. They no longer need learning support in school.”

Fast ForWord is a time-consuming programme. Parents and children have to be willing to put in the hours. John says: “It worked here because Mary put time and effort into it. She did it seven days a week. even over the Christmas holidays.” (Editor’s note, the normal protocol now is 30 minutes for 3 days a week). The children speak very enthusiastically about the programme. Deals says: “It helped me with my spelling and reading and I find my homework a lot easier to do” Brian, who has aspirations to be a spaceman, thought “it was kind of fun”

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Dyslexia: We do not have a knowledge gap, but an action gap

Dyslexia, Paula Tallal,

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Get the Full Transcript HereThe really good news: Science is ready for those who are dyslexic. As my colleague, Dr. Sally Shaywitz from Yale University stated last year in her testimony to this committee, “we now have the data to reliably define dyslexia, to know its prevalence, its cognitive basis, its symptoms and remarkably, where it lives in the brain and evidence-based interventions which can turn a sad, struggling child into not only a good reader, but one who sees herself as a student with self-esteem and a fulfilling future.”  The bad news: We do not have a knowledge gap, but an action gap. Again, from Dr. Shaywitz’s testimony, “In dyslexia, remarkably in America, in the year 2014, we have not a knowledge gap but an action gap. We have the knowledge, but it is not being put into policy and practice and far too many children and adults, too, are suffering needlessly. NEWSFLASH: scientific research show that reading relies on  rapid and consistent auditory processing (listening) and oral language (particularly phonological) skills, and that weakness in these two areas predispose a child to subsequent reading failure.  Schools are in the business of teaching students how to read, not how to process faster or to speak. The Language to Literacy Continuum There is ample prospective, longitudinal research that demonstrates the factors that ultimately cause reading failure begin well before a child enters formal education. Using an infant’s temporal integration threshold at 7 months of age and gender, it was possible to predict 93% correctly those toddlers who at age 3 years scored in the “impaired” range on the Verbal Scale of the Stanford Binet Test of Intelligence. It is important to emphasize that children with slower auditory processing were not intellectually impaired on non-verbal components of intelligence nor did temporal integration thresholds predict non-verbal intelligence. This dissociation demonstrates the specificity of the relationship between auditory temporal integration thresholds and language-based learning. Auditory Processing Can Be Assessed and Addressed at Any Age Moreover, the same model of neural sound processing tracked with children’s actual reading abilities in school-age children.  The good news is that research has shown that addressing this with classroom listening interventions can improve a child’s reading ability and fundamentally rewire the brain for healthier learning and communication skills. Why is the precision and speed of auditory processing important for learning language? Listening to and processing ongoing speech is the fastest thing the human brain has to do. Our brain does not know what language we are going to have to learn to speak. In order to learn to talk, we first have to learn to listen to and chunk information into meaningful segments in the rapidly changing, complex acoustic sounds around us. English Language Learners. Children for whom English is not their first language are also at great risk of becoming struggling learners. Not only does oral language make up to 80% of the curriculum, many of these children have not had sufficient language stimulation in English to set up the distinct phonological representations for 7 English phonemes that are required for phonological awareness in learning to read English. Why Have Schools Failed to Focus on Improving Students’ Fundamental Auditory Processing and Linguistic Capacities? Given the substantial body of research that has consistently shown that learning to read requires: • a solid foundation of fundamental auditory processing (listening) skills; • oral language skills (specifically phonological awareness) and substantial resources have been directed to improving reading outcomes Neuroplasticity: The Brain that Changes Itself One of the basic tenets of modern neuroscience is that, ”Neurons that fire together nearly simultaneously in time, wire together”, Throughout life, but especially early in life, the brain is literally shaped anatomically and physiologically by experience. This repeated scenario of stimulus, neural firing, and reward, leads to experience-driven organization of the brain. This is called “neuroplasticity”. Fast ForWord ® : A model system for translating neuroplasticity-based training research into educational programs Research shows that for the vast majority of dyslexics, before they begin to fail to learn to read in the early school years they already have failed to establish a strong oral language system as toddlers and preschoolers………This cascade from auditory perceptual weakness, to oral language weakness, to reading failure, which I have called the Language to Literacy Continuum, follows the child from infancy into adult life, if not corrected.   Reading Fluency A hallmark of dyslexia is slow and effortful (non-fluent) reading. Research has shown that the best way to improve reading fluency is to have a student read out loud to an adult who corrects the student’s reading errors in real time. Unfortunately, there is limited time for teachers to provide the struggling reader the amount of individual attention they need to develop fluent reading. Many new technologies provide increased opportunities for helping the struggling reader receive the individualized practice that they need. For example, as a “virtual tutor” Reading Assistant ® uses stateof-the-art voice recognition software that allows a child to read stories out loud off of a computer and receive real-time correction of errors. Dr. Paula Tallal Senior Research Scientist, Center for Human Development, University of California, San Diego; Adjunct Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Founder and Director, Scientific Learning Corporation   Get the Full Transcript Here

Suggestions for further reading

1.Tallal, P. (2000) The science of literacy: From the laboratory to the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 97(6), p. 2402-2404.

2. Benasich, A.A. & Tallal, P. (2002) Infant discrimination of rapid auditory cues predicts later language impairment, Behavioural Brain Research, 136, p. 31-49.

3. Temple, E., Deutsch, G. K., Poldrack, R.A., Miller, S.L., Tallal, P., Merzenich, M.M. & Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2003) Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 100, (5) p. 2860- 2865.

4. Tallal, P. (2004) Improving Language and Literacy is a Matter of Time, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5, (9), p. 721-728.

5. Tallal, P. (2013) Fast ForWord®: The Birth of the Neurocognitive Training Revolution. In Michael M. Merzenich, Mor Nahum, Thomas M. Van Vleet editors: Changing Brains: Applying Brain Plasticity to Advance and Recover Human Ability. Progress in Brain Research, Vol. 207, Burlington: Academic Press, 2013, pp. 175-207. ISBN: 978-0-444-63327-9© Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V. Academic Press

6. Gaab, N. Gabrieli, J.D.E., Deutsch, G.K., Tallal, P. & Temple, E. (2007) Neural Correlates of rapid auditory processing are disrupted in children with developmental dyslexia and ameliorated with training: an fMRI study. Restorative Neurology Neuroscience, 25, p. 295-310.

7. Tallal, P. & Gaab, N. (2006) The Role of Dynamic Auditory Processing, Including Musical Training, in Language Development and Disorders, Trends in Neuroscience, 29(7).

8. Ylinen, S. & Kujala, T. (2015) Neuroscience Illuminating the Influence of Auditory or Phonological Intervention on Language-related Deficits. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 137, doi: 10.3389/psyg.2015.00137.

9. Doidge, N. The Brain that Changes Itself. Penguin Books, 2007.

10. Kraus N, Anderson S. (2015) Low socioeconomic status linked to impaired auditory processing. Hearing Journal. 68(5): 38-40.

11. White-Schwoch, Woodruff Carr, Thompson, Anderson, Nicol, Bradlow, Zecker, Kraus. Auditory processing in noise: A preschool biomarker for literacy. (2015) PLOS Biology

Dyslexia, Visual or Auditory?

A Segment of Dyslexia – Issues with the Human “Letter Box”:

Dyslexia, Visual or Auditory Issue

Key Points

  • For some with dyslexia, the “letter box” of the mind is not reacting the way it does in average readers.
  • Reading does not come naturally. The brain of a human is not “wired” for reading
  • Children need to perceive speech sounds and letters quickly and accurately to read effectively.
  • Dyslexics experience difficulty with both listening to the sounds inside of words and perceiving letters.
  • The visual word structure region of the brain; in the occipital lobe, there is a “letter box”

Get Your Free Paper on Reading Difficulties The first endeavors to treat dyslexia 50 years or more ago focused around the significance of letter recognition. Early researchers misunderstood dyslexia and thought that children with dyslexia who had reading problems read the letters and words in reverse. Dehaene has shown that a young reader tends to confuse letter direction. Children need to  discover that a “d” and a “b” are not the same despite the fact that they have a line and a circle at the base.   The question when attempting to comprehend kids with dyslexia, is whether the visual word structure is working the same way when kids battle to figure out how to read or to read fluently. Previous blog entries have examined how most kids determined to have dyslexia show issues with the capacity to perceive speech sounds, the other portion of the “sound to letter” correspondence limit. Be that as it may, are there additionally issues with identifying letters visually? Dr. Dehaene research indicates  that there are also problems with visual recognition of letters. Visual versus Auditory – Does it matter for dyslexia? The human mind develops numerous abilities. As we know well, most kids effectively figure out how to walk and talk with no explicit instruction. What a large number of us don’t understand is that the human brain was not intended to read. The alphabet is only 4,000 years of age and yet the anthropologists say homo sapiens has been on earth for 200,000 years. Indeed, even after standard alphabets appeared not very many adults could read or compose. Actually, it wasn’t until the 20th century before universal reading and compulsory teaching was introduced.   Stanislas Dehaene, one of the neuroscientists specialized in reading and maths in the brain has noted that to read we need to use parts of the brain that was designed for other use We can consider this as a sort of neurological borrowing – brain circuitry, particularly adjusted over hundreds of years for one reason, say for communicaition, to end up being used for reading. Luckily, the dialect and visual object recognition systems of the cerebrum becomes full grown in early pre-school years, and after that multitask in a manner to reconfigure for reading. To comprehend this mind reusing method, we should remind ourselves of what is required for reading. The English alphabet and reading requires that we combine the speech sounds of our dialect,  the phonemes, with the letters, graphemes. This “sound-letter (or phoneme-grapheme) correspondence” requires two limits – the capacity to identify speech sounds rapidly and precisely and then process letters rapidly and precisely. Dr. Dehaene discusses this in an article entitled “Inside the Letter Box”.   As indicated by Dr. Dehaene, “letter box” which is the visual word structure region of the brain, is situated in the region area at the base of the visual part of the brain (the occipital lobe) in the left side of the hemisphere. It is known as the “letter box” as a result of the fact that it demonstrates more stimulation to written words and not by other kinds of visual patterns (like places, faces). The letter box is situated in the same spot for everyone who can read. It is particularly housed in the areas of the occipital lobe, which are activated once we see faces or pictured objects. Dehaene and others have noted that if the “letter box” is harmed or separated from other brain areas by a stroke or other kind of limited cerebrum damage, the individual frequently loses the ability to read.   Dr. Dehaene pointely, states that the “letter box” doesn’t simply help us to perceive words. The letter box has other very complex capacities that are key for fluent reading. For instance, when a person is requested to figure out if the words composed as “READ” and read” are the same words,  it lights up first. Despite the fact that to most perusers of the this blog, that appears like a basic task, upper and lower case letters, for example, “B” and “b” or “G” and “g” or even “E” and “e” are not entirely similar in pattern and form. We need to figure out how to “consider” them to be the same letter, despite the fact that they are altogether different shapes. That doesn’t happen with other visual items – we absolutely never see a circle and a square as the same shapes or our spouse’s and his or her brother’s faces as the same. So letters are distinctive only in that way  – When we read from script letters and a wide range of handwriting styles, upper and lower case letters are recognized as the same. Dr. Dehaene, and his colleagues in a recent brain imaging research report in the journal Neuroimage confirmed, great readers demonstrate a well-developed visual word structure area (the letter box). Dyslexics, then again, demonstrated no such specialization for written words. Children who are struggling to read not only have problems perceiving the sounds within the words, but also have problems recognizing the letters.  – At any rate the “letter box” part of the brain is not reacting the way it does in normal readers.     Children need to discover that that’s a word is not an item, and that the inner subtle element of a word is as essential as the outline. The words House and Horse are different in pronunciation and meaning, although they look a great deal alike at first look, yet the distinction in the third letter makes an immense difference. Children take time to figure this out – however, it doesn’t mean they have dyslexia. It appears that both sides of the reading equation are important – auditory/linguistic and visual. Research in the last couple of decades has shown that children with dyslexia  have problems with sound-related perceptual, language components of reading and  phonological awareness.   New research focuses on the significance of reading interventions that enhance all segments of reading disorders: visual letter recognition, auditory perception, language skills and phonological awareness. The new research likewise indicates the significance that has evidence-based information revealing the overlap with the intervention components and the underlying brain structural changes. The intervention designed by neuroscience like Fast ForWord has examined adults and children with dyslexia by utilizing  brain imaging  technology. It is helpful because it shows when the activation of the brain area increases and the link to reading test gains.   Elise Temple and her partners performed such a study, utilizing fMRI really demonstrated that with kids who were determined to have dyslexia, the Fast ForWord Language program really expanded activity in language regions and also the visual word structure area.

Suggested readings

Dehaene, S. (2013) Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain. Cerebrum. May-June:7. Published online 2013 Jun 3. Monzalvo, Fluss, Billard, Dahaene, & Dehaene-Lambertz, (2012).  Cortical networks for vision and language in dyslexic and normal children of variable socio-economic status. Neuroimage, 61 (2012) 258-274 Temple, E., Deutsch, G. K., Poldrack, R. A., Miller, S.L., Tallal, P., Merzenich, M. M., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2003). Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(5), 2860-2865. Get Your Free Paper on Reading Difficulties

Changes in Brain Function



I have been very interested in how modern brain imaging technologies can teach us things about how children learn and how they struggle to learn and so that’s how I’ve been interested for a while. And then I learned in reading the scientific literature about the work of Tallal and Merzenich that underlies Fast ForWord and scientific learning. I was so impressed by their neuron scientific approach that they had taken to developing this program. I thought it would have been natural to see how the program actually alters children’s brains to go through it.

We looked at these children before they did Fast ForWord. They did Fast ForWord and then we looked at their brain again afterwards and tried to see if they were any changes in brain functions.

The two biggest things that we are following;

First, some part of the brain that children are normally engaged to read were not activated to start within the poor readers and those were now activated, so we saw some part of the brain become normalized to show the activity expecting good readers.

The second, we saw which was perhaps less expected was that many other part of the brain, there are not typically engaged in reading were also turned on as a consequence of the training program.

We are terribly excited by the interaction between education and science. Education is such a struggle in this country and so important for the children. And many scientific methods have not yet been unleashed, you know in a way that is useful for education.

And so that is one of the most exciting things about Fast ForWord, it’s that it’s trying to bridge the gap between science and education. Have education inform the science and science inform the education.

Phonics Bulletin - Fast ForWord

Magazine Article on Research Available

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John D. E. Gabrieli, Ph.D.
Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology

Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

We seek to understand the organization of memory, thought, and emotion in the human brain. We want to discover how the healthy brain supports human capacities, such as hippocampal support for declarative memory, amygdala support for emotional memory, and prefrontal cortical support for working memory. We also study how experience alters functional brain organization (brain plasticity). We aim to understand principles of brain organization that are consistent across individuals, and those that vary across people due to age, personality, and other dimensions of individuality. Therefore, we examine brain-behavior relations across the life span, from children through the elderly. We are also interested in learning how disadvantageous variations in brain structure and function underlie diseases and disorders, and have studied developmental disorders (dyslexia, ADHD, autism), age-related disorders (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease), and psychiatric disorders (depression, social phobia, schizophrenia). Further, we want to understand how potential behavioral or pharmacologic treatments alter brain function when they are therapeutically effective.

Our primary methods are brain imaging (functional and structural), and the experimental behavioral study of patients with brain injuries. The majority of our studies involve functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but we also employ other brain measures as needed to address scientific questions, including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), MRI structural volumes, and voxel-based morphometry (VBM).

Much of our research occurs in the Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute, MIT, which is affiliated with the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging . The Martinos centers are a collaboration among the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts General Hospital , and Harvard Medical School . Our affiliations with these outstanding research institutions promote the opportunity for cutting-edge basic cognitive neuroscience research and translation from basic science to clinical application.