Although school has been back for less than a month, it is likely that many children are already experiencing frustration and confusion in math class. Research at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada could change the way we view math difficulties and how we assist children who face those problems. Daniel Ansari is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Western. He is using brain imaging to understand how children develop math skills, and what kind of brain development is associated with those skills. Research shows that many children who experience mathematical difficulties have developmental dyscalculia - a syndrome that is similar to dyslexia, a learning disability that affects a child's ability to read.
Letters are warped, syllables left out about four percent of the German population are dyslexics. Scientists seek to spot responsible genes and try to develop a genetic screening test to support affected children at an earlier age. Scool? Skuul? Or perhaps shcool? The beginning is a delicate time especially in reading and writing. Twisted letters or other beginner¬ s mistakes disappear quite fast as learning progresses. Nevertheless about four percent of German schoolchildren struggle very hard with written words. What is the cause for such a reading and writing disorder called dyslexia? "Dyslexia is not a matter of low intelligence. It is mainly caused genetically, as twin-studies have shown, " explains Arndt Wilcke, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) in Leipzig.
Dyslexia Awareness Week is to be marked in East Kent with a workshop where experts will present basic strategies and tools to help untap the potential of people who feel dyslexia is holding them back in life. The workshop 'Could Dyslexia be holding you back! Explore the journey to open horizons' will take place Canterbury Christ Church University's Hall Place Enterprise Centre, Harbledown, Canterbury, on 5th November. It is being sponsored by Canterbury Christ Church University in partnership with Business Link's East Kent Enterprise Gateway Service and the British Dyslexia Association. Learning challenges facing people with dyslexia will be explored and practical advice will be given on how to take the next steps to overcome the problems they face. Leading the workshop, will be fellow dyslexics including Janette Beetham, whose challenges were identified when she was in her 30's after enrolling at Canterbury Christ Church University to start a degree course.
The next time you are reading a book, or even as you read this article, consider the words that you are seeing. How do you recognize these words? Substantial research has shown that while reading, we recognize words by their letters and not by the general shape of the word. However, it was largely unknown how we differentiate one letter from another. Psychologist Daniel Fiset from the University of Victoria and his colleagues investigated which features of letters are necessary for their identification. In these experiments, the researchers used the "Bubbles" technique, in which randomly sampled areas of a letter were shown to volunteers. The researchers then evaluated which areas of each of the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet were crucial for letter recognition. The results, reported in the November issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that the most important features for identifying both upper and lower case letter are the points where the letters end, also known as line terminations.
Specialised teaching for individuals with dyscalculia, the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, should be made widely available in mainstream education, according to a review of current research published in the journal Science. Although just as common as dyslexia, with an estimated prevalence of up to 7% of the population, dyscalculia has been neglected as a disorder of cognitive development. However, a world-wide effort by scientists and educators has established the essential neural network that supports arithmetic, and revealed abnormalities in this network in the brains of dyscalulic learners. Neuroscience research shows what kind of help is most needed - strengthening simple number concepts. This can be achieved with appropriate specially-designed teaching schemes, which can be supported by game-like software that adapts to the learner's current level of competence.