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Stanford brain imaging study shows physiological basis of dyslexia
Date:9/28/2011

STANFORD, Calif. -- Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have used an imaging technique to show that the brain activation patterns in children with poor reading skills and a low IQ are similar to those in poor readers with a typical IQ. The work provides more definitive evidence about poor readers having similar kinds of difficulties regardless of their general cognitive ability.

Schools and psychologists have historically relied on a child's IQ to define and diagnose dyslexia, a brain-based learning disability that impairs a person's ability to read: If a child's reading achievement was below expectation based on IQ, he would be considered dyslexic, while a poor reader with a low IQ would receive some other diagnosis. But these new findings provide "biological evidence that IQ should not be emphasized in the diagnosis of reading abilities," said Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D, an instructor at Stanford's Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, who is senior author of the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.

The new results come in the wake of recent behavioral studies showing that phonological deficits -- that is, difficulties in processing the sound system of language, which often leads to difficulties in connecting the sounds of language to letters -- are similar in poor readers regardless of IQ. Indeed, the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandated that states no longer require school districts to use IQ tests in identifying individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

"There's a disassociation between what is established in research and what is happening in practice," said Hoeft, explaining that many U.S. schools still rely on a discrepancy between reading achievement and IQ to define and diagnose dyslexia. At first glance, she added, it would seem to make sense that poor readers with typical IQs would have diff
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Contact: Michelle Brandt
mbrandt@stanford.edu
650-723-0272
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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