Infants must correctly process fast-changing sounds, like those within the syllable "ba," in order to learn language and, later, to know what printed letters sound like. Infants use sound processing to grab from speech all the sounds of their native language, then stamp them into their brains, creating a sound map. If they can't analyze fast-changing sounds, their sound map may become confused.
"Children with developmental dyslexia may be living in a world with in-between sounds," says Gaab. "It could be that whenever I tell a dyslexic child 'ga,' they hear a mix of 'ga,' 'ka,' 'ba,' and 'wa'."
Reading trouble may develop when these children first see printed letters, Gaab and cognitive scientists believe, because at this stage, the children's brains wire their internal sound map to letters they see on the page. Linking normal letters to confused sounds may lead to syllable-confused reading.
But the brains of the children with dyslexia changed after completing exercises in a computer program known as Fast ForWord Language (Scientific Learning, Oakland, CA). The exercises involved no readingonly listening to sounds, starting with simple, changing noises, like chirps that swooped up in pitch. The children then had to respondclicking to indicate, for instance, whether the chirps pitch went up or down. The sounds played slowly at firstan easy task for the dyslexic childrenbut gradually sped up, becoming more challenging. The exercises then repeated with increasingly complex sounds: syllables, words, and finally, sentences.
The repetitive exercises appeared to rewire the dyslexic children's brains: after eight weeks of daily sessionsabout 60 hours totaltheir brains
|Contact: James Newton|
Children's Hospital Boston