Brain scans of pre-schoolers may aid early diagnosis of dyslexia

Early markers detected before children develop language skills

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Brain scans can reveal early markers of dyslexia in children before they even start to read, new research suggests.

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The part of the brain that is known to be associated with dyslexia is called the arcuate fasciculus, which is found to be smaller in affected people. Until now, it’s not known whether this shrinkage is the cause or consequence of dyslexia.

This research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, now suggests that this structural difference may be detectable in children as early as pre-school age.

40 school-entry children were asked to perform a number of pre-reading tests. The results found that those children who produced lower scores also had a smaller arcuate fasciculus.

Researchers plan to monitor the development of these children as they progress through school to see whether these differences will go on to predict onset of dyslexia.

Lead researcher Prof John Gabrieli said: “We don’t know yet how it plays out over time, and that’s the big question.

“We do not know how many of these children will go on to develop problems. But anyway, we want to intervene before that, and the younger you do that the better. We already know that reading programmes and interventions can really help.”

Scientists highlight the need for more research in the area.

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