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Concept: Dyslexia

206

Dyscalculia, dyslexia, and specific language impairment (SLI) are relatively specific developmental learning disabilities in math, reading, and oral language, respectively, that occur in the context of average intellectual capacity and adequate environmental opportunities. Past research has been dominated by studies focused on single impairments despite the widespread recognition that overlapping and comorbid deficits are common. The present study took an epidemiological approach to study the learning profiles of a large school age sample in language, reading, and math. Both general learning profiles reflecting good or poor performance across measures and specific learning profiles involving either weak language, weak reading, weak math, or weak math and reading were observed. These latter four profiles characterized 70% of children with some evidence of a learning disability. Low scores in phonological short-term memory characterized clusters with a language-based weakness whereas low or variable phonological awareness was associated with the reading (but not language-based) weaknesses. The low math only group did not show these phonological deficits. These findings may suggest different etiologies for language-based deficits in language, reading, and math, reading-related impairments in reading and math, and isolated math disabilities.

Concepts: Developmental psychology, Learning disability, Reading, Specific language impairment, Special education, Disability, Educational psychology, Dyslexia

169

We have developed a pen and writing tablet for use by subjects during fMRI scanning. The pen consists of two jacketed, multi-mode optical fibers routed to the tip of a hollowed-out ball-point pen. The pen has been further modified by addition of a plastic plate to maintain a perpendicular pen-tablet orientation. The tablet is simply a non-metallic frame holding a paper print of continuously varying color gradients. The optical fibers are routed out of the MRI bore to a light-tight box in an adjacent control room. Within the box, light from a high intensity LED is coupled into one of the fibers, while the other fiber abuts a color sensor. Light from the LED exits the pen tip, illuminating a small spot on the tablet, and the resulting reflected light is routed to the color sensor. Given a lookup table of position for each color on the tablet, the coordinates of the pen on the tablet may be displayed and digitized in real-time. While simple and inexpensive, the system achieves sufficient resolution to grade writing tasks testing dysgraphic and dyslexic phenomena.

Concepts: Learning disability, Dysgraphia, Writing, Refraction, Optical fiber, Pen, Dyslexia, Light

31

The production effect is the memory advantage of saying words aloud over simply reading them silently. It has been hypothesised that this advantage stems from production featuring distinctive information that stands out at study relative to reading silently. MacLeod (2011) (I said, you said: The production effect gets personal. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 1197-1202. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0168-8 ) found superior memory for reading aloud oneself vs. hearing another person read aloud, which suggests that motor information (speaking), self-referential information (i.e., “I said it”), or both contribute to the production effect. In the present experiment, we dissociated the influence on memory of these two components by including a study condition in which participants heard themselves read words aloud (recorded earlier) - a first for production effect research - along with the more typical study conditions of reading aloud, hearing someone else speak, and reading silently. There was a gradient of memory across these four conditions, with hearing oneself lying between speaking and hearing someone else speak. These results imply that oral production is beneficial because it entails two distinctive components: a motor (speech) act and a unique, self-referential auditory input.

Concepts: Orthography, Dyslexia, Reading

28

Objective:The aim was to evaluate behavioural therapy as a treatment for low mood in people with aphasia.Design:A randomized controlled trial comparing behavioural therapy plus usual care with a usual care control. Potential participants with aphasia after stroke were screened for the presence of low mood. Those who met the criteria and gave consent were randomly allocated.Setting:Participants were recruited from hospital wards, community rehabilitation, speech and language therapy services and stroke groups.Subjects:Of 511 people with aphasia identified, 105 had low mood and were recruited.Interventions:Behavioural therapy was offered for up to three months. Outcomes were assessed three and six months after random allocation.Main measures:Stroke Aphasic Depression Questionnaire, Visual Analog Mood Scales ‘sad’ item, and Visual Analogue Self-Esteem Scale.Results:Participants were aged 29 to 94 years (mean 67.0, SD 13.5) and 66 (63%) were men. Regression analysis showed that at three months, when baseline values and communication impairment were controlled for, group allocation was a significant predictor of the Stroke Aphasic Depression Questionnaire (P < 0.05), visual analogue 'sad' (P = 0.03), and Visual Analogue Self-Esteem Scale (P < 0.01). At six months, group alone was a significant predictor of the Stroke Aphasic Depression Questionnaire (P < 0.05), and remained significant when baseline values were controlled for (P = 0.02). Mean Stroke Aphasic Depression Questionnaire 10-item hospital version scores decreased from baseline to six months by six points in the intervention group as compared with an increase of 1.9 points in the control group.Conclusions:Behavioural therapy seemed to improve the mood of people with aphasia.

Concepts: Expressive aphasia, Regression analysis, Dyslexia, Aphasia, Traumatic brain injury, Randomness, Randomized controlled trial, Stroke

26

Children’s engagement in music practice is associated with enhancements in literacy-related language skills, as demonstrated by multiple reports of correlation across these two domains. Training studies have tested whether engaging in music training directly transfers benefit to children’s literacy skill development. Results of such studies, however, are mixed. Interpretation of these mixed results is made more complex by the fact that a wide range of literacy-related outcome measures are used across these studies. Here, we address these challenges via a meta-analytic approach. A comprehensive literature review of peer-reviewed music training studies was built around key criteria needed to test the direct transfer hypothesis, including: (a) inclusion of music training vs. control groups; (b) inclusion of pre- vs. post-comparison measures, and © indication that reading instruction was held constant across groups. Thirteen studies were identified (n = 901). Two classes of outcome measures emerged with sufficient overlap to support meta-analysis: phonological awareness and reading fluency. Hours of training, age, and type of control intervention were examined as potential moderators. Results supported the hypothesis that music training leads to gains in phonological awareness skills. The effect isolated by contrasting gains in music training vs. gains in control was small relative to the large variance in these skills (d = 0.2). Interestingly, analyses revealed that transfer effects for rhyming skills tended to grow stronger with increased hours of training. In contrast, no significant aggregate transfer effect emerged for reading fluency measures, despite some studies reporting large training effects. The potential influence of other study design factors were considered, including intervention design, IQ, and SES. Results are discussed in the context of emerging findings that music training may enhance literacy development via changes in brain mechanisms that support both music and language cognition.

Concepts: Practice, Dyslexia, Reading, Skill, Phonological awareness, Training, Scientific method, Educational psychology

26

Alexia and agraphia are disorders common to the left inferior parietal lobule, including the angular and supramarginal gyri. However, it is still unclear how these cortical regions interact with other cortical sites and what the most important white matter tracts are in relation to reading and writing processes. Here, the authors present the case of a patient who underwent an awake craniotomy for a left inferior parietal lobule glioma using direct cortical and subcortical electrostimulation. The use of subcortical stimulation allowed identification of the specific white matter tracts associated with reading and writing. These tracts were found as portions of the dorsal inferior frontooccipital fasciculus (IFOF) fibers in the deep parietal lobe that are responsible for connecting the frontal lobe to the superior parietal lobule. These findings are consistent with previous diffusion tensor imaging tractography and functional MRI studies, which suggest that the IFOF may play a role in the reading and writing processes. This is the first report of transient alexia and agraphia elicited through intraoperative direct subcortical electrostimulation, and the findings support the crucial role of the IFOF in reading and writing.

Concepts: Imaging, Dyslexia, Neuroimaging, Parietal lobe, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Frontal lobe, Magnetic resonance imaging

26

Research has shown that children with learning disabilities (LD) are less prone to evince associative illusions of memory as a result of impairments in their ability to engage in semantic processing. However, it is unclear whether this observation is true for scripted life events, especially if they include emotional content, or across a broad spectrum of learning disabilities. The present study addressed these issues by assessing recognition memory for script-like information in children with nonverbal learning disability (NLD), children with dyslexia, and typically developing children (N=51). Participants viewed photographs about 8 common events (e.g., family dinner), and embedded in each episode was either a negative or a neutral consequence of an unseen action. Children’s memory was then tested on a yes/no recognition task that included old and new photographs. Results showed that the three groups performed similarly in recognizing target photographs, but exhibited differences in memory errors. Compared to other groups, children with NLD were more likely to falsely recognize photographs that depicted an unseen cause of an emotional seen event and associated more “Remember” responses to these errors. Children with dyslexia were equally likely to falsely recognize both unseen causes of seen photographs and photographs generally consistent with the script, whereas the other participant groups were more likely to falsely recognize unseen causes rather than script-consistent distractors. Results are interpreted in terms of mechanisms underlying false memories' formation in different clinical populations of children with LD.

Concepts: Causality, Dyslexia, Learning disability, Nonverbal learning disorder, Psychology, Disability, Learning disabilities, Educational psychology

25

Improving the reading performance of children with developmental surface dyslexia has proved challenging, with limited generalisation of reading skills typically reported after intervention. The aim of this study was to provide tailored, theoretically motivated intervention to two children with developmental surface dyslexia. Our objectives were to improve their reading performance, and to evaluate the utility of current reading models in therapeutic practice. Detailed reading and cognitive profiles for two male children with developmental surface dyslexia were compared to the results obtained by age-matched control groups. The specific area of single-word reading difficulty for each child was identified within the dual route model (DRM) of reading, following which a theoretically motivated intervention programme was devised. Both children showed significant improvements in single-word reading ability after training, with generalisation effects observed for untrained words. However, the assessment and intervention results also differed for each child, reinforcing the view that the causes and consequences of developmental dyslexia, even within subtypes, are not homogeneous. Overall, the results of the interventions corresponded more closely with the DRM than other current reading models, in that real word reading improved in the absence of enhanced nonword reading for both children.

Concepts: Reading, Thought, Child, Orthography, Dyslexia, Better, Educational psychology, Improve

25

Learning to read is extremely difficult for about 10% of children; they are affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder called dyslexia [1, 2]. The neurocognitive causes of dyslexia are still hotly debated [3-12]. Dyslexia remediation is far from being fully achieved [13], and the current treatments demand high levels of resources [1]. Here, we demonstrate that only 12 hr of playing action video games-not involving any direct phonological or orthographic training-drastically improve the reading abilities of children with dyslexia. We tested reading, phonological, and attentional skills in two matched groups of children with dyslexia before and after they played action or nonaction video games for nine sessions of 80 min per day. We found that only playing action video games improved children’s reading speed, without any cost in accuracy, more so than 1 year of spontaneous reading development and more than or equal to highly demanding traditional reading treatments. Attentional skills also improved during action video game training. It has been demonstrated that action video games efficiently improve attention abilities [14, 15]; our results showed that this attention improvement can directly translate into better reading abilities, providing a new, fast, fun remediation of dyslexia that has theoretical relevance in unveiling the causal role of attention in reading acquisition.

Concepts: Learning disability, Educational psychology, Reading, Dyslexia, Orthography, Better, Improve, Video game genres

23

Dyslexia is a prevalent reading disability whose underlying mechanisms are still disputed. We studied the neural mechanisms underlying dyslexia using a simple frequency-discrimination task. Though participants were asked to compare the two tones in each trial, implicit memory of previous trials affected their responses. We hypothesized that implicit memory decays faster among dyslexics. We tested this by increasing the temporal intervals between consecutive trials, and measuring the behavioral impact and ERP responses from the auditory cortex. Dyslexics showed a faster decay of implicit memory effects on both measures, with similar time constants. Finally, faster decay also characterized dyslexics' benefits in oral reading rate. It decreased faster as a function of the time interval from the previous reading of the same non-word. We propose that dyslexics' shorter neural adaptation paradoxically accounts for their longer reading times, since it induces noisier and less reliable predictions for both simple and complex stimuli.

Concepts: Hippocampus, Time travel, Brain, Psychology, Temporal lobe, Dyslexia, Implicit memory, Time