Brain abnormalities discovered in people who have trouble reading fast

Dec 03, 2007

Some people who have problems reading quickly appear to have abnormalities in the white matter of their brains, according to research published in the December 4, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say these findings provide a model to better understand ways in which the brain may have developed differently in people with learning disabilities.

For the study, researchers tested the reading and cognitive abilities of 30 adults, 10 of whom had periventricular nodular heterotopia (PNH), a rare genetic brain disease that causes seizures and reading disabilities. Ten of the adults had dyslexia, one of the most common learning problems in the general population, and the other 10 participants were healthy and had no reading problems. Six of the 10 people with PNH also underwent a specialized form of brain scan.

The researchers found that the people with PNH had a specific form of dyslexia that affected their ability to read words and name things quickly. These individuals had visible disruptions in their white matter, the part of the brain that consists mostly of fiber tracts, or wiring, that connect together other brain regions. The more their white matter was abnormal, the worse they performed on rapid reading tests.

“Our findings suggest that white matter integrity plays a critical role in reading fluency and that defects in white matter serve as the structural basis for the type of dyslexia we see in this brain malformation,” said the study’s lead author Bernard S. Chang, MD, with Harvard Medical School in Boston, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our work highlights the importance of studying white matter structure in order to understand cognitive problems and learning disabilities more fully."

Chang says there are several limitations to the study, including the small sample size and the fact that brain scans cannot definitively show how the white matter fibers are actually connected.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: World's first wearable blue LED light therapy device to treat skin disease psoriasis vulgaris

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

California's sea otter numbers holding steady

Sep 23, 2014

When a sea otter wants to rest, it wraps a piece of kelp around its body to hold itself steady among the rolling waves. Likewise, California's sea otter numbers are holding steady despite many forces pushing ...

Scientific instruments of Rosetta's Philae lander

Sep 23, 2014

When traveling to far off lands, one packs carefully. What you carry must be comprehensive but not so much that it is a burden. And once you arrive, you must be prepared to do something extraordinary to make ...

Bioengineers create functional 3-D brain-like tissue

Aug 11, 2014

Bioengineers have created three-dimensional brain-like tissue that functions like and has structural features similar to tissue in the rat brain and that can be kept alive in the lab for more than two months.

Body by smartphone

Jul 30, 2014

We love our smartphones. Since they marched out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers about 10 years ago, we've relied more and more on our iPhone and Android devices to organize our schedules, ...

Saving the brain's white matter with mutated mice

Aug 17, 2010

Vanishing White Matter (VWM) disease is a devastating condition that involves the destruction of brain myelin due to a mutation in a central factor. To understand the disease and test potential treatments that could apply ...

Recommended for you

Motion capture examines dance techniques

Sep 29, 2014

WAAPA dance students are set to take part in a world-first biomechanical study that tracks their training, technique and injuries as they develop as professional performers.

User comments : 0