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Where is The Neuroscience of Learning Going Next on Dyslexia & ESL?

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 18, 2015 at 11:04 AM

DrMarthaBurnsWhere is neuroscience going next?

"The big question neuroscience is trying to answer now is, can you predict who will benefit from intervention", said Dr Martha Burns in a recent presentation at a conference in Tuscon, USA.

Dr Martha Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn. 

Here is a summary of her presentation:

"Some new research came out January 7th (2015) and it is very long and very complex, it's by John Gabrielle. It was his lab where Elise Temple did the original fMRI studies on Fast ForWord. He has three groups that he's looking at to see if we can predict what interventions will help students with dyslexia.

There is a parallel with what is happening in psychiatry right now. They are trying to figure out for example with mental illness, who will benefit from medication versus who will benefit from talk therapy. That's huge in psychiatry right now.


In dyslexia though, a lot of students don't benefit from what we already have. They don't benefit from the different instructional methodology that's out there. So Gabrielle went to fMRI, looked at students before and after intervention and tried to figure out what is the core brain region that would help us identify or predict whether a student would benefit from intervention.

And by that I mean typical classroom types of intervention for dyslexia teaching.

And what he found with this reading disorder was it's not the left hemisphere, it's the right inferior frontal lobe. Students who showed activation there were much more likely to benefit from instruction. And guess what, we never paid attention to this because we didn't understand it.

You know, in Elise Temple's original research, these are the areas that we highlight that changed after Fast ForWord but there were all sorts of right hemisphere activations that changed. And what was the major area? The right inferior frontal gyrus. In other words, the Fast ForWord programs, if we go back to Elise's research with dyslexia, they enabled the students to have activation in the part of the brain that enables them to benefit from instruction.

English as a Second or Other Language

Dr.Gabrielle is also doing some work on English language learners to see if we can predict which students will benefit from English language instruction. So I hope to share this with you next year.

And finally, neuroscience research is continuing to confirm the value of the Fast ForWord exercises in developing the brain to remediate a range of cognitive, language and learning difficulties, and to build student learning capacity".

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Topics: English Language Learners, Brain Science, Dyslexia

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