Using fMRI, researchers at UW's Learning Disabilities Center are studying brain connectivity timing for dyslexia.
Science Daily: "Some brain regions are too strongly connected functionally in children with dyslexia when they are deciding which sounds go with which letters," said Todd Richards, a UW neuroimaging scientist and lead author of a study published in the current issue of the Journal of Neurolinguistics. We had hints in previous studies that the ability to decode novel words improves when a specific brain region in the right hemisphere decreases in activation. This study suggests that the deactivation may result in a disconnection in time from the comparable region in the left hemisphere, which in turn leads to improved reading. Reading requires sequential as well as simultaneous processes."
So they studied a group of dyslexic kids, and a group of 'good readers'. Amazingly,
The children's brains were scanned and then those with dyslexia participated in a three-week program that taught the children the code for connecting letters and sounds with an emphasis on timing. Then the children's brains were scanned again.
Following the treatment, the fMRI scans showed that the patterns of temporal connectivity in brains of the dyslexic children had normalized and were similar to those of the good readers and spellers.
The study has shown these gains sustained for up to 2 years so far, but stresses this is not yet a cure for dyslexia. At least they're off to a good start.
How is this happening? They hypothesize:
"These results might mean that after special teaching the children with dyslexia activated letters in written words first and then switched to sounds in spoken words rather than simultaneously activating both letters and sounds," said Richards. "The overconnection between the language conductor and working memory at the same time may be a signal that working memory is overtaxed. When language processing is more efficient after treatment, working memory does not have to work as hard.