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Research challenges idea that less brain tissue causes dyslexia

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A newly published research study challenges old ideas about the cause of dyslexia. Published in The Journal of Neuroscience online on Jan. 14, the study helps clarify what might be causing a difference in the amount of gray matter seen in the brain. The study used two control groups. One control group was made up of same aged peers and the other control group were younger children that read at the same reading level as the dyslexic test group.

This study showed that when compared to same aged peers, dyslexic readers have less gray matter across both hemispheres. This result is similar to results of previous research. However, when findings were compared to the second control group, the comparison did not hold up as strongly. Only in areas of the right hemisphere did there seem to be less gray matter in the dyslexic group. According to a news release by Georgetown University Medical Center, study leader Guinevere Eden, a professor of pediatrics said, "If the differences in brain anatomy in dyslexia were seen in comparison with both control groups, it would have suggested that reduced gray matter reflects an underlying cause of the reading deficit. But that's not what we observed."

This might also challenge the previous idea that less gray matter in the left hemisphere, specifically near language learning areas, were possibly a contributing cause to the development of dyslexia. The notion that as a child develops, something happens early on to effect the gray matter in the left hemisphere and therefore cause a form of dyslexia may soon be an idea of the past. Instead, what may be happening in these cases is that a child has some kind of learning experience, which causes an experienced-induced change in his brain. This may be the real cause of differences in gray matter seen in dyslexic minds. Overall, this research is good news and may be part of further research to uncover more efficient interventions for individuals struggling with dyslexia.

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