Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Neurodevelopment in Children

The primary goal of our Network research is to use state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to study non-invasively whether there are changes in the brain that are linked with language and literacy development in children. Both structural and functional brain imaging with MRI have demonstrated their utility in better understanding reading disabilities and their remediation. There is growing evidence that reading difficulties may have a neurological abnormality at its source. In analogy to a network of computers, the brain can be simplified into two types of tissue: gray matter which contains the numerous CPUs and white matter which represents the wiring connecting the different CPUs of the brain. Hence, in various neurological disorders, one can either have a problem with the individual computers (gray matter) or with their connections (white matter). A study in adults at Stanford University showed that diffusion tensor MRI measures of white matter integrity (i.e. brain "wiring") within certain regions of the brain differed between good and poor readers. They also found high correlations between brain connectivity and reading scores in both normal and reading impaired adults. This finding suggested that the connections between specific parts of the brain may be linked to the ability to read or lack thereof. The initial drive of our research was to see if these published results in adults hold true in children. The goals of our research project are to determine (1) whether children who are poor readers show significantly lower development in their "wiring" within certain regions of the brain compared to children with normal reading development and (2) that these MRI measures of "wiring" integrity demonstrate significant correlations with scores of reading ability in both reading disabled children and normal readers. Non-invasive imaging studies of the brain will continue to revolutionize our understanding of higher, complex cognitive processes such as language and literacy.

The language and culture of my heritage is passed on to me orally. It's a different way of learning than how I am taught at school. How do I keep my traditional culture alive while learning to read and being immersed in the majority culture?

Reading is the core of learning and staying in school. Improving my reading skills will open up the doors to future prospects.

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