Verbal instructions do prompt the brain into improving a kid's reading skills, says a new study.
Timothy Keller and Marcel Just, from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), wanted to track cerebral changes in poor readers who make the transition to good reading.
They scanned the brains of 72 children aged between eight and 10 years, before and after undergoing a six-month remedial (verbal) instruction programme.
The results showed that the quality of white matter, the tissue that ensures signaling between areas of Grey matter, which processes information, improved substantially after 100 hours of remedial training.
Post training, imaging indicated that the capability of the white matter to transmit signals efficiently had increased, and testing showed the children could read better.
Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a new brain imaging technique that tracks water movement in order to reveal the microscopic structure of white matter, Keller and Just found a brain change involving the white matter cabling that wires different parts of the brain together.
Previous DTI studies had shown that both children and adults with reading difficulty displayed areas of compromised white matter.
"Showing that it's possible to rewire a brain's white matter has important implications for treating reading disabilities and other developmental disorders, including autism," said Just, Psychology Professor at the CMU.
Thomas R. Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said, "This finding suggests an exciting new approach to be tested in the treatment of mental disorders, which increasingly appear to be due to problems in specific brain circuits."
These results were published in Neuron.