Brain Test Could Predict Future Literacy Challenges Researchers have developed a test that may predict literacy challenges or learning disabilities in young children before they’ve learned to read. A reading of brain activity could be the key to determining future issues, suggests a new study led by Northwestern University’s Nina Kraus, creating more opportunities for early intervention. ... Research in Brief
Free
Research in Brief  |   October 2015
Brain Test Could Predict Future Literacy Challenges
Author Notes
Article Information
Normal Language Processing / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   October 2015
Brain Test Could Predict Future Literacy Challenges
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20102015.14
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.20102015.14
Researchers have developed a test that may predict literacy challenges or learning disabilities in young children before they’ve learned to read.
A reading of brain activity could be the key to determining future issues, suggests a new study led by Northwestern University’s Nina Kraus, creating more opportunities for early intervention.
“There are excellent interventions we can give to struggling readers during crucial preschool years, but the earlier the better,” says Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and a professor of communication sciences, neurobiology and physiology in the School of Communication. “The challenge has been to identify which children are candidates for these interventions,” and now researchers may have discovered a way to do so.
Researchers placed electrodes on the scalps of 112 participants ages 3 to 14 to study each child’s ability to decipher consonants in speech in a noisy, disorderly environment. If the brain isn’t functioning typically, it could have difficulty keeping up with processing language in noise—specifically consonants, which are spoken quickly and are more acoustically complex than vowels.

Those children able to efficiently process the consonants in an initial evaluation were less likely to develop language or learning disabilities than their peers.

In the study, published in PLOS Biology, researchers played the syllable “da” over the sound of six talkers in a child’s right ear, with the soundtrack of a movie in the left ear. Those children able to efficiently process the consonants in an initial evaluation were less likely to develop language or learning disabilities than their peers who had trouble in the noisy environments.
The test, which Kraus calls a “biological looking glass into a child’s future literacy,” also correctly predicted reading ability and the presence of learning disabilities in school-age children.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
October 2015
Volume 20, Issue 10