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Reading Interventions Can Strengthen Brain Tissue

Reading interventions can lead to positive physical changes in lower level students’ brain structures, according to research by scientists at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers Marcel Just and Timothy Keller say that after just six months of intensive remedial reading instruction, children who had been poor readers were not only able to improve their skills, but grew new brain matter.

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers first scanned the brains of students with a wide range of academic abilities.

The group of the poor readers enrolled in an intensive remedial reading program showed improved reading as well as changes in their connecting tissue.

The follow-up scans also showed that some white-matter connections in the struggling students? brains became just as strong as those of students in the top reading group.

White matter gets its name from the fatty myelin sheaths that encase the nerve fibers that connect one “thinking” area of the brain with another. It makes up half the brain?s volume.

According to Dr. Just, the Carnegie Mellon study cements the idea that learning can actually change the physical contours of the brain.

Merit Software users have been saying for almost twenty-five years that intensive reading assistance can make a significant difference in the helping struggling readers make lasting gains.

Reading comprehension software programs such as those produced by Merit help make intensive reading assistance more effective by breaking passages down into understandable parts for students.

This process helps struggling readers learn to respond to essential questions, determine the main idea of a passage, identify the sequence of details, and connect ideas and recognize themes in texts.

Click here to read more about the Carnegie Mellon study.