12/11/09

Brain Change


Carnegie Mellon researchers Timothy Keller and Marcel Just have uncovered the first evidence that the brain can rewire itself.

The researchers witnessed that through intensive instruction to improve reading skills in young children, the brain can physically rewire itself, creating new white matter that improves communication within the brain.

Translation: Reading instruction for children can actually trigger brain development that bumps poor readers up to good reader status.

Keller and Just used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) – a new brain imaging technique – to scan the brain of 72 children, ages 8-10, before and after a six-month remedial reading instruction program.

Previous DTI studies revealed compromised white matter in the brains of both children and adults who have difficulty with reading. But Keller and Just’s recent research found that 100 hours of intensive reading training increased the quality of the compromised white matter to normal levels, which directly correlated with improved reading skills.

The researchers also monitored a control group to prove the changes in white matter could not be attributed to naturally occurring maturation, as the brain development was only evident in the children who received the reading instruction.

For more, watch a video, check out an article about it in the Los Angeles Times, or visit Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging online.

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