Combining Brain Scans And Behavioral Tests Aids Early Identification Of At-Risk Readers

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Taken together, functional brain scans and tests of reading skills strongly predict which children will have ongoing reading problems.

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What's more, the two methods work better together than either one alone, according to new research in the June issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Neuroscientists at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities think this double-barreled diagnostic can help identify at-risk readers as early as possible. That way, schools can step in before those children fail to learn to read or develop poor reading habits that might interfere with remediation, such as relying on memory for words rather than sounding out new ones. Early identification and systematic intervention can very often turn likely non-readers into readers, according to the study authors.

This study of 73 Pittsburgh-area children of ages 8 to 12, all identified as struggling readers, ran for a school year. At the start of the year, the researchers administered standard tests of early literacy skills, including word identification, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, efficiency, and phonological processing

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