THURSDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Devices that amplify the sound of a teacher's voice may help children with dyslexia improve their reading skills, new research suggests.
After a year of wearing the devices in the classroom, children with dyslexia had improved scores on tests of phonological awareness and reading.
"We saw improvements in reading, and when we measured the brain's response to speech sounds, not only did the kids who wore the device become more consistent to the very soft and rapidly changing elements of sound that help distinguish one consonant from another, but their brains responded more consistently to sounds," said study senior author Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "That improved stability was linked with reading improvement."
Results of the study were published in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
When people think of dyslexia, they often think of someone seeing letters backward. More recent research suggests, however, that difficulties in phonological processing are a problem for children with dyslexia.
"Phonological processing relies on so many different pieces of information, like the auditory processing of sound," explained Dena Klein, a psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "If the sound isn't clear, it's hard to make a connection for what those sounds represent, and, in turn, that makes it hard to read."
"For some kids, there's an unstable recognition of sounds that impedes the sound-to-meaning connections that need to be made in order to learn to read," she said. "But if the child is hearing the teacher's voice right in his ear [through an assistive listening device], it makes him pay attention. It enables the child to know what to pay attention to."
In the current study, Kraus and her colleagues studi
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