The results of a new study from MIT could help identify dyslexia in children before they even begin reading. This would allow for earlier and more effective intervention.

​The study was performed with researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital. It identified a correlation between poor pre-reading skills in kindergartners and the size of a brain structure that connects two language-processing areas, the arcuate fasciculus. In previous studies, this structure has been shown to be smaller and less organized in adults with poor reading skills than in adults who read normally. Up till now, it was unknown if these differences caused reading difficulties or if they resulted from a lack of reading experience.

New Research from MIT: Brain Scans and Diagnosing Dyslexia

Image source: MIT


​Therefore, the study looked at children prior to reading instruction to see whether these types of differences would be identified. 40 children had their brains scanned using a technique known as diffusion-weighted imaging, which is based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This type of imaging can reveal the size and organization of the brain’s white matter, the bundles of nerves that carry information between brain regions.

​When looking at the results of the scans and comparing them with the results of several different types of pre-reading tests, the researchers found a correlation between the size and organization of the arcuate fasciculus and performance on tests of phonological awareness, which is the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of language.

​The left arcuate fasciculus connects the area of the brain involved in speech production with the area of the brain involved in understanding written and spoken language. A larger and more organized arcuate fasciculus, therefore, could aid in communication between these regions.

​The research is still in its infancy and there are more studies to be conducted, but the researchers hope that the final outcome will allow them to get a more accurate look at who will become a dyslexic child so that they might get the earliest possible intervention.

​To read more of the details on this study, visit MIT's website.