Researchers in Italy have observed significant reductions of gray matter volume in areas of the brain associated with language processing among people with a family history of dyslexia in comparison with controls with no reading problems. Published in the August 24 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, the study also lends support to previous studies suggesting intensive reading therapy activates areas of the brain necessary for word de-coding.
The study of 10 people with familial dyslexia and 11 controls was the first to employ an advanced testing method – voxel-based morphometry (VBM) – which allows more in-depth detection and measurement of gray-white tissue volume and density differences than other testing tools, including magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The brain is made up of gray matter, where the brain cells reside, and white matter, where the nerve tracts that allow connections between different parts of the brain and spinal cord reside. The study also was the first to account for variabilities in whole brain volume, age of the subjects and differences in brain shape.
Each of the subjects with dyslexia had at least one close relative with either clinically evident dyslexia or a long history of reading problems.
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