Cutting edge science is confirming that intensive instruction can actually rewire the brain and achieve long-term results for dyslexic students and others.
A recent study at Carnegie Mellon University using brain imaging technology found the brain reacted to specifically targeted, intensive instruction, “rewiring” itself to correct the deficiency. The research tracked blood flow to various parts of the brain, gauging mental activity during reading activities. The slides showing the brains of a group of kids who were considered “poor readers” at the beginning of the study nearly matched the slides of the brains of the “good readers” after 100 hours of intensive instruction.
What is more exciting is the testing done one year after the instruction ended. The mental activity in the “good readers” and previously labeled “poor readers” was almost identical 12 months after the original testing was done. The researchers believe this is due to the increased engagement with reading activities and the brain’s ability to adapt and activate low-performing portions.
The researchers hope to be able to use this study to open the door to curriculum evaluation and education policy reform, but for us, it confirms what we’ve been doing at Applied Learning Processes for years. The brain sometimes needs targeted exercises to build up its weaker components. And the most robust results are achieved when treatment is delivered intensively – five days a week. Two to four hours per day is ideal, but the most critical issue is the daily stimulation.
Neuroscientist Marcel Just, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) and senior author of the study, put it this way:
“”Any kind of education is a matter of training the brain. When poor readers are learning to read, a particular brain area is not performing as well as it might, and remedial instruction helps to shape that area up. This finding shows that poor readers can be helped to develop buff brains.”