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[ The Effect Of Parental Education On The Heritability Of Children's Reading Disability ]

The Effect Of Parental Education On The Heritability Of Children's Reading Disability

Parental education is a strong predictor of socioeconomic status and children's educational environment. Nevertheless, some children continue to experience reading failure in spite of high parental education and support for learning to read. University of Colorado at Boulder psychologists Angela Friend, John C. DeFries and Richard K. Olson examined if genetic and environmental influences on reading disability, the most commonly identified learning disability, interact with level of parental education. In this study, 545 pairs of identical and fraternal twins were selected wherein at least one of the twins in each pair had a reading disability. In addition, the researchers obtained information about the parents' years of education. The results, described in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, showed that there was a significant interaction between parents' years of education and the heritability of reading disability.

Help For Persons With Aphasia - Computerized Writing Aids

It is possible to improve writing skills for those with aphasia with the aid of computerised writing aids. This is the conclusion of a doctoral thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Aphasia affects the ability to understand and use spoken language, and the ability to read and write. Persons with aphasia were trained in the use of computerised writing aids in the study on which speech and language pathologist Ingrid Behrns' doctoral thesis is based. The subjects were aided by a computer-based spell-checker and a program for word prediction, similar to that used when writing SMS messages on mobile telephones. The thesis shows that writing ability improved in several ways with the aid of these programs. "A fairly high reading and writing ability is necessary in order to benefit from the most common spell-checkers.

Unraveling The Roots Of Dyslexia

By peering into the brains of people with dyslexia compared to normal readers, a study published online on March 12th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, has shed new light on the roots of the learning disability, which affects four to ten percent of the population. The findings support the notion that the reading and spelling deficit - characterized by an inability to break words down into the separate sounds that comprise them - stems in part from a failure to properly integrate letters with their speech sounds. "The adults with dyslexia in the study had enough reading experience to match letters and their speech sounds correctly, " said Vera Blau of the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands "Still, the results show that the way their brain integrates letters and speech sounds is very different from normal readers.

Discovery By JHU Researcher That Brain Cells Have 'Memory'

As we look at the world around us, images flicker into our brains like so many disparate pixels on a computer screen that change every time our eyes move, which is several times a second. Yet we don't perceive the world as a constantly flashing computer display. Why not? Neuroscientists at The Johns Hopkins University think that part of the answer lies in a special region of the brain's visual cortex which is in charge of distinguishing between background and foreground images. Writing in a recent issue of the journal Neuron, the team demonstrates that nerve cells in this region (called V2) are able to "grab onto" figure-ground information from visual images for several seconds, even after the images themselves are removed from our sight. "Recent studies have hotly debated whether the visual system uses a buffer to store image information and if so, the duration of that storage, " said Rudiger von der Heydt, a professor in Johns Hopkins' Zanvyl Krieger Mind-Brain Institute, and co-author on the paper.

SPEEDY Babies A New Behavioural Syndrome

Children's speech and language disorders caused by unknown factors are common. The disorders vary in type and manifest themselves differently in different ages. Delayed motor development is widely known to coexist with speech and language disorders. However, hardly any attention has been paid to children in whom delayed speech development is associated with learning to walk unassisted at an early stage. Dr Marja-Leena Haapanen from the Phoniatric Division of the Helsinki University Central Hospital has studied and described these children and observed a recurrent pattern in their behavioural phenotype. The children were examined by a multi-disciplinary research group over an extensive period in time. Usually these children, known as SPEEDY babies, have good language comprehension skills, but their speech is very unclear, although they may start speaking early on and can be quite talkative.

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