Remediation affects brain functioning


Images from CMU Site

As Liz mentioned in a comment on the post RC > WR, Ann Meyler and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a study documenting changes in children’s brain functioning following remedial reading instruction. In “Modifying the brain activation of poor readers during sentence comprehension with extended remedial instruction: A longitudinal study of neuroplasticity,” Professor Meyler and colleagues reported the results of conducting fMRI examinations of children while they performed sentence comprehension tasks at three different times: (i) prior to remedial reading instruction, (ii) following 100 hours of remedial reading instruction, and (iii) one year after remedial instruction had ended. The team found that the sample of students whom they imaged had clearly different patterns of activity in their brains following remediation and that the differences persisted one year after intervention ended.

The remedial reading study, called “Power4Kids,” was conducted in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit of Pennsylvania (US). It is a well-designed and conducted study that has yielded preliminary findings. The Power4Kids study aimed to examine differences in outcomes achieved by students who experienced different remedial reading instruction. The instructional programs were Corrective Reading, Wilson Reading, Spell Read Phonological Auditory Training (PAT), and Failure Free Reading. In the present study, the results for all four remedial programs are combined, so it is not possible to compare outcomes of the different programs. (The reports of the Power4Kids study are complex, not admitting to simple summary. At the broadest level, they revealed that the interventions affected student performance positively, producing larger effects for 3rd graders than for 5th graders, and affecting decoding aspects of reading more than comprehension. The references are at the end of this entry.)

The CMU team that performed this study maintained a Web site for the project that some folks will find instructive. The popular press has covered this story, too. See ‘Rewired’ brains help children read better by Allison Heinrichs of the Pittsburgh (PA, US) Tribune-Review (12 June 2008).

It bears mention that this is one of multiple studies with similar findings. I’ve covered the fact that changing reading behavior changes brains here on LD Blog 3 December 2005 and 14 February 2007.

Meyler, A., Keller, T. A., Cherkassky, V. L., Gabrieli, J. D. E., & Just, M. (2008). Modifying the brain activation of poor readers during sentence comprehension with extended remedial instruction: A longitudinal study of neuroplasticity. Neuropsychologia, 46, 2580–2592.

Torgesen, J., Myers, D., Schirm, A., Stuart, E., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Stancavage, F., Durno, D. Javorsky, R., & Haan, C. (2006). National assessment of Title I: Interim report to Congress: Volume III: Closing the reading gap, first year findings from a randomized trial of four reading interventions for striving readers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Link.

Torgesen, J., Schirm, A., Castner, L., Vartivarian, S., Mansfield, W., Myers, D., Stancavage, F., Durno, D. Javorsky, R., & Haan, C. (2007). National assessment of Title I: Interim report to Congress: Volume II: Closing the reading gap, first year findings from a randomized trial of four reading interventions for striving readers (NCEE 2008-4013). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Link.

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