Mental Health

What Causes Dyslexia? Difficulties Could Stem From Difference In Human Brain Plasticity, Study Suggests

A new study from neuroscientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has identified a neural adaptation in the brains of people with dyslexia.

Research suggests that reading difficulties could be a result of reduced plasticity in the brain, which is responsible for its ability to learn new things.

Read: Dyslexia ‘Seen’ In Brain Scans Of Kindergartners: Earlier Learning Interventions May Be Possible

The research team at MIT examined brain scans from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to understand the minds young adults with and without reading difficulties. Participants were asked to perform a variety of tasks, including listening to a series of words read by either four different speakers or a single speaker.

A distinctive patterns of activity in each group of subjects was identified from MRIs, according to a press release from MIT. Participants with dyslexia seemed to have significantly less adaptation to hearing words said by a single speaker.

Additionally, researchers conducted further experiments to comprehend the limitations of this effect. The team found that brain regions in people with dyslexia were devoted to just interpreting words, objects, and faces independently. But they did not show neural adaptation when the same stimuli were repeated multiple times.

knowledge A new study has identified brain differences in people with dyslexia. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

"It's a difference in the brain that's not about reading per se, but it's a difference in perceptual learning that's pretty broad," said the study’s senior author John Gabrieli, according to a press release from MIT. "This is a path by which a brain difference could influence learning to read, which involves so many demands on plasticity."

Read: What Is Dyslexia: Web App Shows How Learning Disability Causes Letters To 'Jump Around' While Reading

Moving forward, the research team hopes to study younger children in order to see if these differences might be apparent even before children even start learning to read. That might allow for early intervention — before a child became discouraged or felt stigmatized by learning difficulties.

Source: Perrachione TK, Del Tufo SN, Winter R, Murtagh J, Cyr A, et al. Dysfunction of Rapid Neural Adaptation in Dyslexia. Neuron. 2016.

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