Exciting new dyslexia research, titled “Rapid and Widespread White Matter Plasticity During an Intensive Reading Intervention,” was published this month in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
The study, from the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at University of Washington (UW), examined growth in reading skills and white matter in school-aged, struggling readers. Diffusion MRI data collected during eight weeks of Lindamood-Bell® intensive instruction using the Seeing Stars® program indicates that there were large-scale changes in white matter along with growth in reading skills. Additionally, the study identifies white matter tracts that may predict the ease with which a child learns how to read.
The study focused on three areas of white matter—regions rich with neural connections—that link regions of the brain involved in language and vision. After eight weeks of intensive instruction among study participants, two of the three areas of white matter showed evidence of structural changes—a greater density and more organized “wiring.” That plasticity points to changes brought about by the environment, indicating that they are flexible structures that reorganize in response to experiences children have in the classroom or during intervention.
Dr. Jason Yeatman, one of the study’s researchers, says that, “While many parents and teachers might worry that dyslexia is permanent, reflecting intrinsic deficits in the brain, these findings demonstrate that targeted, intensive reading programs not only lead to substantial improvements in reading skills, but also change the underlying wiring of the brain’s reading circuitry.”
Links below to the article in Nature Communications and a summary article in UW News provide more insight into this significant new study.