Scientists Discover Evidence of Brain Rewiring in Kids
In a report published this week in the academic journal, Neuron, scientists Timothy Keller and Marcel Just explain that after being trained in reading skills, imaging showed the capability of children's brains to transmit signals efficiently had increased, and testing showed the children could read better.
For these children (ages 8 to 10), the quality of their brains' white matter -- the brain tissue that carries signals between areas of gray matter where information is processed -- had improved substantially after they received 100 hours of remedial training.
"Showing that it's possible to rewire a brain's white matter has important implications for treating reading disabilities and other developmental disorders, including autism," says Just, director of CMU's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI), in a statement about the study.
The researchers scanned the brains of 72 children before and after a six month remedial reading program. At the outset, 47 were poor readers and 25 were reading at a normal level. The good readers and 12 of the poor readers weren't given remedial instruction, and their brain scans showed no changes.
"The lack of change in the control groups demonstrates that the change in the treated group cannot be attributed to naturally occurring maturation during the study," says Keller, a CCBI research scientist and author of the first developmental study of compromised white matter in autism.
So, the next time your kids say they don't feel like reading, remind them: Improving their reading skills could actually help them grow more powerful brains.
Related: Tips for Family Reading, Reading and Language Development
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.