Dyslexia and Neurofeedback -- It's All about Connections
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms that results in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading.
The exact causes are not clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a person with dyslexia develops and functions. 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability, and of those, 70-80% have deficits in reading. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally, as well as equally affecting people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
The causes for dyslexia are neurobiological and genetic. Chances are that one of the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles has dyslexia.
What is Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain. At The Colorado Center for Neurofeedback, we use a type of system that allows us to do what is called coherence training. With Dyslexia and with many other disorders, the way the areas of the brain are communicating with each other is impaired. For the majority of the population, the left side of the brain is involved in all language-based communication. The ability to recognize letters and words, auditory sequencing, object naming, word recall, writing, articulation of speech and preservation of speech sounds and written words all happens in the left-brain regions. So, if the left side of the brain is under connected, this learning becomes very difficult. When we work with clients with dyslexia, we generally target the left side. (All of our protocols are based off of brain maps, but typically, that is where we will see deficits in those with any language based problems). When we train the left side, we are rewarding the brain when the input from each site is more similar. We like to say “what fires together, wires together”. During sessions, clients will watch a movie, or play a video game, the movie will play clearly, or the client will win the game when his brainwaves are in the pattern we are trying to encourage.
Why Neurofeedback for Dyslexia
Have you ever written a word, and thought,” wow that doesn’t look right”? Well, most people with dyslexia are missing that ability. They don’t realize the word looks wrong, so therefore, don’t think it is spelled wrong. Those areas of the brain are just not connected. When the areas of the brain don’t communicate as well, it can take longer to get the information from your visual fields to the temporal lobes, so reading speed is much slower.
We know that most people with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence and develop lots of coping mechanisms to help them through life. Neurofeedback can help develop new connections in the brain that make learning easier. In fact, in one study, students with dyslexia gained 1.2 grade levels in just 20 sessions.
When clients who are struggling with learning issues come to our clinic, we do a full assessment, and depending on age may look at the grade levels for word reading, sentence comprehension and spelling. We also do a neuropsych evaluation to look at attention, and both verbal and visual memory. Often those with dyslexia will have a lower verbal memory, as our test for this involves reading and remembering words.
This example of a brain map shows how the area on the left side does not have great connections.
As discussed, typically those with dyslexia have lower scores in verbal memory. Most people with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence. This example shows a client that scored extremely well in every other area
We will usually see at least a 2 grade level discrepancy between word reading and sentence comprehension. These clients have learned to get the understanding from a passage even when they cannot read each word. We also work with schools to help those who need services qualify for a 504 or IEP.
A study done comparing neurofeedback to a reading resource room showed that the neurofeedback group made significant gains as compared to the group only receiving traditional support.
Once the areas of the brain are able to more effectively communicate, learning becomes much easier. We have worked with children as young as 3. If your child has a learning issue or is speech delayed, don’t wait, we can help them now.
If you are interested in neurofeedback for you or your child, please call The Colorado Center for Neurofeedback for a free consultation.