Researchers Identify Link between Dyslexia and Neurons in Frontal Brain

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Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and University of California San Francisco identified the mechanism of grey matter in resilient readers.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading. Patients suffering from this disease find it difficult to navigating between the visual form and sounds of a written language. However, some cases of the disease dubbed as resilient dyslexics exhibit remarkably high levels of reading comprehension despite difficulties decoding. Now researchers from Tel Aviv University and University of California San Francisco revealed the mechanism that allows certain individuals with dyslexia to overcome their low decoding abilities and ultimately extract meaning from text. The research was led jointly by Dr. Smadar Patael of Department of Communication Disorders at TAU and Prof. Fumiko Hoeft, at the University of California San Francisco. It was published in the online journal PLOS One of The Public Library of Science on June 14, 2018.

A larger volume of gray matter in resilient readers in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of the left hemisphere, is known as the “air traffic controller” or “conductor” of the brain. DLPFC is the part of the brain responsible for executive functions and working memory that comprises this gray matter. The team analyzed 55 English-speaking children aged 10-16 with a wide range of reading abilities. Half of these children were suffering from dyslexia. A simple method that measured the difference between the reading abilities and decoding skills of the participants was developed by the researchers. The experiment included MRI scanning of these participants to compare the mapped images of the participants’ brains with their reading skill results. It was observed that the left DLPFC was directly related to this discrepancy in children with dyslexia. Furthermore, MRI scan of 43 kindergarteners after three years revealed that the density of neurons in the DLPFC predated mature reading ability and predicted the discrepancy. The findings suggested that the density of the gray matter was regardless of their initial reading abilities.

 

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