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Dyslexia Seen In Brain Scans of Pre-School Children 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-diagnoses dept.
dryriver writes "Brain scans may allow detection of dyslexia in pre-school children even before they start to read, say researchers. A U.S. 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."
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Dyslexia Seen In Brain Scans of Pre-School Children

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  • They lie awake all night wondering if there really is a DOG!

    • by hutsell (1228828)

      They lie awake all night wondering if there really is a DOG!

      Unfortunately, this means dyslexics — not realizing it was a joke — will read your comment and mistakenly think you're talking about God .

  • by gnoshi (314933) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:11PM (#44569875)

    What I got out of the article was not that 'scans could allow early detection and diagnosis', because deploying brain-scans on children to 'detect' a disorder like this is ludicrous (due to the low base rate and high cost of imaging). What I got was that there are 'pre-reading tests' which are apparently useful to detect dyslexia - otherwise you couldn't correlate the brain imaging results with the results of those pre-reading tests, and then call the imaging a 'dyslexia test' right?

    Hell, maybe the researchers could develop a battery of pre-reading tests and then look at the correlation of the tests to the smaller arcuate fasciculus to choose good diagnostic tests. Assuming that the smaller arcuate fasciculus is actually causal in dyslexia, of course.

    (Note: I am broadly cynical about correlational brain imaging research such as this. It can be good. It is almost invariably overstated.)

    • Yes. There are pre-reading tests that can detect dyslexia, and they are quite accurate. The tests that I know of are trivial to pass for non-dyslexic children, and surprisingly challenging for children who will exhibit dyslexia once they start to learn to read.

      They're all about testing how well children can take words apart and put them back together in their head. I attended a presentation on this at the University of Canterbury - which if you're interested you can see here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z [youtube.com]

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Try introducing him to Japanese or Chinese. Many dyslexic people find they may have trouble with English but not with non-alphabet based languages. Japanese is probably the easier to start with because of the three character sets used two are phonetic and there are only 48 per set (actually it's even less than that, half are just variations of the other half).

        • Well, we live in New Zealand, so of all the languages in the world to learn, one or both of those is probably a good idea. I'll give it a shot.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Good luck. Japanese is the easier of the two, and if you go for it I suggest beginning with the katakana characters because they have a lot of loan words and they are all written with it. It can be kind of fun trying to figure out what a loan word is because they don't always fit into Japanese pronunciation that well, and of course some are not English (Japanese for bread is "pan", from Portuguese).

      • My younger brother is dyslexic and is most definitely the smartest person I have ever met. {and I know a lot of very smart people} Aside from a couple bachelors degrees he can fix your car or any item in your house electronic or not. When he was in school they gave him this colored film to place over books he read now he has it tinted into his reading glasses. {I have no idea if they still do it but it works for him and you might ask about it}

        He is also left handed, extremely eccentric, and a little weird.

        • I had to look it up.

          http://irlen.com/index.php [irlen.com]

          • On the subject of Irlen Syndrome:

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/4/e932 [aappublications.org]

            Which isn't to belittle your brother's achievements, but my understanding of Irlen Syndrome is that it's quackery. They diagnosed both of my kids with Irlen, but the colored overlays made no difference to their reading abilities that I could detect. It's always a warning sign when a 'syndrome' is a registered trademark.

            • If you ask him he will say it makes all the difference... Maybe it's a placebo effect...

              • Quite, and I don't want to suggest that someone who's found something that works should stop using it. But dyslexia is a tough thing to deal with, and the evidence doesn't support what the Irlen outfit want to sell, so people's money and energies should probably be channelled into support strategies that the evidence does support.

                If either of my boys decide to wear coloured lenses, and claim that they help, placebo or otherwise, I'm certainly not going to stand in their way. But kids are extremely suggestib

                • I actually had never looked them up online before my brother is in his 30s now, and it's something he has done since grade school. He is very hard to gauge with his many eccentricities but I've not seen him struggle with reading since junior high.

    • by matria (157464)
      As a parent of two "normal" children and one badly dyslexic child, and having spent the same amount of time playing, singing, reading, drawing, coloring with all three, this was obvious. By the time my dyslexic child was 2, I knew he had something going on. Before that, actually, but nothing definite until then.
    • by mandginguero (1435161) on Thursday August 15, 2013 @02:31AM (#44571447)

      If you check out the actual reporting from the authors (here for abstract http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/33/13251.abstract?sid=bb49e635-09a9-4719-8462-cf027b122652 [jneurosci.org]) you can see that they tested three predictors for dyslexia on children who had not yet received reading lessons. Without making any claims of observing dyslexia, they noted that the size of the arcurate fasciculus is positively correlated with scores of 'phonological awareness' and no correlation with 'rapid naming' or 'letter knowledge.' Perhaps a linguist or clinician could help elucidate what those tests are actually measuring.

      It could be that dyslexia is a grouping of somewhat different brain/processing abnormalities that have similar behaviors. If that is the case, then brain imaging of the size of arcurate fasciculus could predict whether treatment aimed at increasing phonological awareness would have any effect. If you haven't had an intro neuropsych course you may not have heard that the arcurate fasciculus is a primary connection between auditory cortex and motor representations - thought to translate hearing into replying. Folk who have damage to this fiber tract are typically unable to repeat back to you what they just heard. The auditory and visual conduits run in parallel in this part of the brain, so it may have bearing on sequencing of writing, not just spoken words.

    • by radtea (464814)

      Assuming that the smaller arcuate fasciculus is actually causal in dyslexia, of course.

      This is where the utility of brain imaging comes in: it may help localize the causes of dyslexia in particular regions of the brain, guiding further research and perhaps leading to better remedial approaches to the condition.

  • And a dollar short (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @08:26PM (#44570011)
    My dyslexia forced me to work harder in school at things others found easy. I was confused for a few years until I realized not everyone had my issues. Once I adapted, I started jumping grades and moving ahead. There are things about it that can be leveraged in terms of learning, after all.

    Finding issues like this out early can be a blessing or a curse depending on how the parents and the school system react. If it's used to hang a 'problem learner' sign on a kid and just stick them in a corner, I say it's a curse. If it's used to support a tailored teaching environment, it would be a blessing.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      My dyslexia left me learning learning differently than my peers. Some things I was faster at, others slower. But the school system is set up to push everyone through at some arbitrary average. Someone that's a few years ahead in one area and behind in another is not a possibility for the present system (until the higher grades). If the entire system was scrapped and moved to something Montessori-like, that would take care of many of the problems. But political reasons prevent any improvements in the sc
    • by nbritton (823086)

      For what it's worth, I've always learned best through hands-on and video instruction. The ability to pause a lecture, rewind it, play it back at a slower or faster rate, and play it back at any time is priceless. Non verbal queues are lost in audio only recordings, and attention has always been a problem for me due to lack of engagement. I'm a proficient reader, testing at a post grad level, but it has always been a laborious process for me. Additionally I have a strong aversion to serif fonts, as it's much

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A large percentage of dyslexia cases can be corrected through the use of colored lenses. Evidently in these cases dyslexia is caused by certain colors being transmitted to the wrong areas of the brain. Filter out these colors and a person can suddenly start reading. See irlen.com for more information. I am in no way affiliated with the site but know from personal experience that this works.

  • According to TFA: "It is too early to say if the structural brain differences found in the study are a marker of dyslexia." Why? Because the children in this study are still of pre-school age so they haven't been followed up. What they have shown, it seems, is that a smaller arcuate fasciculus makes you worse at tasks such as producing word sounds.
  • Wouldn't help (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @09:26PM (#44570317) Journal

    When we discovered my daughter had a reading problem, I paid for comprehensive tests, delivered the results to the school, (she had severe dyslexia -- the doctors said she probably wouldn't ever read past third grade level) and was told flatly by school officials that they didn't recognize Dyslexia as a condition. That their diagnosis (a school giving a medical diagnosis? never mind...) was that she was hyperactive and had a problem with authority. They suggested Ritalin. I pointed out that an independent psychologist hadn't found any signs of hyperactivity. They stuck to their guns.

    So, maybe I'm being overly cynical, but I suspect this new test will just give them another datum to ignore.

    But who knows, maybe it depends on the school system.

    • and was told flatly by school officials that they didn't recognize Dyslexia as a condition. That their diagnosis (a school giving a medical diagnosis? never mind...) was that she was hyperactive and had a problem with authority. They suggested Ritalin. I pointed out that an independent psychologist hadn't found any signs of hyperactivity. They stuck to their guns.

      Wow, that's...fucked up. I hope you got her transferred to some other school or worked out the whole thing. Luckily here in Finland dyslexia is actually recognized as a medical condition and kids who get diagnosed as dyslexic get help with that -- no Ritalin, not treated like retards, no claims of hyperactivity.

      • Re:Wouldn't help (Score:4, Informative)

        by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @10:45PM (#44570681) Journal

        I fought the system for a couple years, got her transferred to IEP ("special needs" program) but they were so hostile to her and to me that I finally pulled her out of school. She was homeschooled for three years, (which, fortunately, is legal here) then she applied for and was accepted into a magnet school for 9th grade. It was still not great (I had to read all of her homework to her, and she had to dictate her assignments to me ... every night ... it was like having a second job) but the magnet school never questioned her inability to read and at no time suggested she needed to be medicated. It was precisely where she needed to be and I have nightmares sometimes thinking what she would have gone through had she not been accepted.

  • Labels (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
    We are hell bent to label everyone....

    See Johnny over there? He's high functioning autustic.

    Little Suzy to his right? Textbook Dyslexic!

    Little Ralph? Oh, very ADHD.

    .....and on, and on, and on, until we find out that only 10 percent of the population is "normal" - whatever that is. Then we'll be able to drug the little bastards up, and turn them into model citizens.

    • What's wrong with labels, then? You're acting like they're something bad, but you're not actually explaining why. Certain labels just happen to help with knowing how to treat a person in some situations, like e.g. my ex is highly dyslexic and therefore has trouble with written content; if you're communicating with her but don't know about her "label" -- as you so eloquently put -- you'd think she's either retarded or doesn't bother to follow the communication because she keeps misinterpreting what's being s

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        What's wrong with labels, then? You're acting like they're something bad, but you're not actually explaining why.

        Labels, what could be wrong?

        1. You are categorized that is what you are, and when labeled, you tend to stay there.

        A co-worker's wife was a teacher. One day at a wedding reception she told me that she had excellent skills at labeiling chilren after a few seconds, and was very proud of how well she did it. She said she was always right. After speaking with some other parents, it turns out when she lableed some child a loser, she made damn well sure the child became a loser

        I might have dismissed it, exce

        • This is going to be a really big secret I'm telling you, don't tell anyone:

          These people that you need to know how to treat? Treat them like a normal person.

          Reading through your whole rant you just seem terribly bitter and assume immediately that everyone is like the teacher you mentioned. Well, I'm gonna tell you a secret here in return: not everyone is like that. I don't see dyslexia, for example, as a deficiency as that would imply a negative attitude towards it; it's just one aspect of the person, it carries no positive or negative connotation in my mind at all. If I hear someone having Asperger's or something I don't immediately jump to the conclusion that

          • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

            This is going to be a really big secret I'm telling you, don't tell anyone:

            These people that you need to know how to treat? Treat them like a normal person.

            Reading through your whole rant you just seem terribly bitter and assume immediately that everyone is like the teacher you mentioned.

            No doubt you haven't experienced the joy of being labeled.

            Perhaps you read well, but you are not comprehending. You even quote my main point, yet miss it. Allow me to explain, although I fear it will not do much good.

            1. I believe that labeling people is misused as often as it is used for good. I have personal experience in that exact thing happening, bith with myself and others

            2. I do not treat people who have been labeled as (insert the label here) in the same manner as people who think they have to know the label do,

            2. The people who I have associated who have been labeled as ( in my instance as ADHD, and Asperger's, as well as some intellectually challenged but not labeled autistic) have related to me that people tend to talk to them as if they are children. Dumb children.

            3. The people who I have associated with who have been labeld have commented that they prefer my approach. Which is actually no approach at all.

            Seriously, if you don't like my approach, too bad.

            You know, through your whole post you, yourself, are trying to label me as "normal," yet you continue to whine about labels. That right there is hypocrisy.

            I do not label you as anything - at least in my world. I believe that you are one of those people who feel the need to label everything, In your world, my writing that means I am labeling you as that. But that is not understanding. Being "labeled" as "A person who labels everything" is nothing like being labeled as ADHD, or Antisocial, or Bad person, or whatever negative connotation others might want to bestow. As a show of our differences, you have called me a bitter whining hypocrite. Hey, thanks. I ha

            • by AK Marc (707885)

              I do not label you as anything - at least in my world.

              So, when you see a car parked on the side of the road with a light-bar on top with red and blue lights, and markings that look like your local police, you assume no difference between that can and any other? Most people would label it "police car" and either check their speed, or give more space, as it's more likely to pull out suddenly if it sees something that the "usual" car labeled "broken down car".

              Or do you pull over behind it and check for government plates, in case it's an ex-police car sold at au

              • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

                Or do you pull over behind it and check for government plates, in case it's an ex-police car sold at auction? Or continue further and call the station to see where car 421 is at the moment so you can identify it, rather than label it?

                You re arguing past me. What I am saying is that many people are labeled, and some others use that to discriminate against them. I don't like that. I think it is wrong. Do you think it is a good thing?

                This is what I am talking about:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labeling_theory [wikipedia.org]

                And much of the response to this labeling is very similar to styereotyping, especially the self fulfilling prophecy aspects:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype#Discrimination [wikipedia.org]

                There is also a bit of Observer-Expectency e

                • by AK Marc (707885)

                  You re arguing past me. What I am saying is that many people are labeled, and some others use that to discriminate against them. I don't like that. I think it is wrong. Do you think it is a good thing?

                  I'm saying that labels ("prejudice" being the correct, but emotionally loaded word), is a required human function. Rounding up all people with matching labels and gassing them is not a function of "labels". That labels are misused is not a comment on the labels themselves.

                  When you see someone running along the street in a suit, you prejudicially assume they are a businessman late to a meeting. When you see someone running along the street in a black outfit wearing a balaclava and carrying sacks with b

                  • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

                    Godwin. I wanted to think so, but you cannot have an intelligent discussion on this topic. I give you references, you give me Gas chambers and old you know who.

                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      Like I said, you are so emotionally involved, you can't discuss the words. You are disagreeing with me while acting in a manner consistent with agreement. You gave irrelevant references about emotional abuse when we were talking about labels and such. Links supporting your irrelevant comments about emotional abuse do not apply to my comments. You are just frustrated that I'm not having the conversation you want to have. I'm stating that labels are good, for most definitions of labels. You want to disc
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          And I was locked in a closet every day over lunch (at John J. Pershing Elementary School, Dallas) in second grade (around 1980). Just because you had a teacher that did it wrong doesn't mean that labels are bad. I did finally get pulled when I was beat for failing to follow directions for a Halloween assignment (the order was to "draw a man with two orange heads" - everyone else drew a man with two orange heads symmetrically in place of the regular one. I drew a regular human, carrying two jack-o-lanter
    • Nice rant, but it ignores that dyslexia is not treated with drugs. Is there a label for the condition that causes someone to lump everything into the same category?

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        Nice rant, but it ignores that dyslexia is not treated with drugs. Is there a label for the condition that causes someone to lump everything into the same category?

        Ummmm, that's what labels are Did you see in a dictionary somewhere that defines the word "label" is some sort of condition treatable by drugs? I'm complaining about societies seeming desire to label normal people as something somehow deficient. Not only drug treatable "deficiencies".

    • Dyslexia exists. Get over it.

      ADHD - don't know. High-functioning autistic? Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me. But Dyslexia? Trust me mate, it exists, and if you have it then you will have severe difficulty in learning to read and write. End. Of. Story. I presume from your dismissive attitude that you don't have it, in which case more power to you.

      There's no drug for it ether. Sure, I'm very suspicious of problems that have quick fixes you can go out and buy - Dyslexia doesn't have any of that. Ther

      • by AK Marc (707885)

        You will always struggle with reading and writing, but other aspects of language will be unaffected.

        I don't believe you. Have you seen the studies where people properly read words with the correct start and end letter, but the middle ones jumbled? That's more how dyslexics read. When you don't know as many words, it makes it very hard to learn new words, sounding them out doesn't work well. Writing isn't hard, it just isn't as accurate, and can be frustrating when perfection is demanded. When the dyslexic gets to enough words, reading is no harder than a regular person, just possibly less accurate (t

        • Have you seen the studies where people properly read words with the correct start and end letter, but the middle ones jumbled? That's more how dyslexics read.

          Yes, I have seen those studies. That's not how dyslexic's read - that's how 'regular' people read. I am not dyslexic, so I don't know how they read, but I do know that they find it very difficult.

          When the dyslexic gets to enough words, reading is no harder than a regular person.

          Citation needed

          Writing isn't hard ... When I, as a teen, got to about "average" adult vocabulary, reading became much easier.

          You are not dyslexic. Good for you.

          I think you might want to do a bit more research before you proclaim on matters about which you appear to know very little.

          My vocabulary is likely more than double average

          Unlikely. Lots of people think this, in the same way that lots of people think they are above average drivers. Your vocabulary may very well be

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            You are not dyslexic. Good for you.

            Then you know more about me in a single sentence than a PhD who tutored me for multiple years and formally diagnosed me.

            Unlikely. Lots of people think this, in the same way that lots of people think they are above average drivers. Your vocabulary may very well be very large, although your writing doesn't betray such versatility, but double average? In your own words, I don't believe you.

            I don't use big words for little minds. There's not an easy way to gauge vocabulary size, but I've had mine estimated at about 40k, and "average" is about 20k. You likely didn't know what average was until I just told you, but are somehow enough of an expert to know I'm wrong without even knowing what "wrong" would be.

            Yes, I have seen those studies. That's not how dyslexic's read

            In your own words, I don't believe you.

  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday August 14, 2013 @09:34PM (#44570367)

    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.

    Sure, but did the kids later get diagnosed with dyslexia? Oh, didn't follow them that long? So we have an interesting observation pretending to be a diagnostic tool.

  • NFS. Who ever thought otherwise? Oh, maybe some researchers scamming your tax money.
  • since I read that as Pre-School Children Seen In Brain Scans of Dyslexia

  • Dixlecys Untie!
  • Held me back never did.
  • There's a typo in the summary, the correct spelling is "Accurate Fasciculus".

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