LANGUAGE PROCESSING IS THE KEY: It is worth noting that dyslexia is not clinically identified by seeing letters backward or out of order. When dyslexics hear speech, they are not necessarily able to hear the sound accurately. Recent research showed that the brains of children with dyslexia are not able to process fast-changing sounds. Based on data obtained via fMRI, the findings suggest new ways to treat dyslexia and may help doctors to diagnose the disability earlier in life, before reading begins. This causes problems later when kids attempt to sound out words while reading.
THE EXPERIMENT: Researchers agree that dyslexics have problems manipulating words and sounds, that the primary problem is processing the sounds that make up words. Using a computer program that plays fast-changing and slow-changing sounds, Dr. Gaab used fMRI to monitor how children's brains respond to the sounds. Children with dyslexia use the same brain areas to process both fast and slow changing sounds, as opposed to other readers, who use a certain array of 11 areas more extensively when processing fast-changing sounds.
WHAT IS fMRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field rather than X-rays to take clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. fMRI uses this technology to identify regions of the brain where blood vessels are expanding, chemical changes are taking place, or extra oxygen is being delivered. These are indications that a particular part of the brain is processing information and giving commands to the body. As a patient performs a particular task, the metabolism will increase in the brain area responsible for that task, changing the signal in the image. Analyzing the images to understand how responses are similar or different for different tasks allows scientists to better understand the patient as an individual, and also to learn more about the human brain in general.