Brain entrainment may potentially help avoid or correct dyslexia, study suggests
Previous studies have shown that the brain is capable of adjusting the frequency of its waves in time with the rhythm of certain sounds. This phenomenon is known as brainwave entrainment, a concept typically associated with altered brain states. Yet, according to an investigative team from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL), brainwave entrainment also has the potential to prevent disorders like dyslexia.
To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers carried out two experiments. The first involved 35 volunteers; the second had 37. Participants in the first experiment were made to listen to “amplitude‐modulated white‐noise” for six minutes; in the second, they were exposed to “spectrally rotated speech” for the same duration. Both experiments involved magnetoencephalography, a non-invasive, neurophysiological medical test that measures human brain activity. This was done in order to help the researchers analyze the brain regions that synchronized with various frequency bands.
Nicola Molinaro, one of the study authors and a staff scientist at BCBL, noted that speech synchronization was more pronounced when the participants listened to low-frequency bands. These bands are associated with tone, accent, and speech intonation. Additionally, Molinaro and her colleagues discovered that this harmonization activated the regions of the brain connected with language processing.
Based on their findings, Molinaro concluded that low-frequency bands could be used to develop language learning-focused therapeutic interventions. An earlier study conducted by different researchers from the same institution showed that dyslexic children had great difficulty synchronizing with low-frequency bands. In turn, this led to inadequate stimulation of language processing-related brain regions. As such, utilizing low-frequency sounds could potentially help those struggling with language problems in childhood.
“For example, brain synchronization can be measured while a child with dyslexia is listening and giving a reward if it stimulates more synchronization with the low-frequency band. It can help those who are out of sync to pay more attention to the tones, accents, and intonations of speech,” explained Molinaro. “With repeated training sessions we can help children with language delay to recover the mechanisms of attention.”
With that in mind, Molinaro has said that he and his colleagues plan on furthering their study to better define that occurs in the brain during synchronization. Specifically, they intend on analyzing this phenomenon under other conditions, such as one where numerous people are talking all at once or another where the receiver of a message can view the sender’s face. “The objective is to analyze what happens in the brains of bilinguals, in those who are learning a new language or in patients with brain injuries,” he stated.
Fast facts about dyslexia
- Dyslexia is the most common neurocognitive disorder, according to Dyslexia.Yale.edu. Around 80 to 90 percent of individuals with learning disabilities have dyslexia.
- Children who have dyslexia will often have difficulty recognizing rhyming words and will be slightly delayed in their speech.
- A family history of dyslexia greatly predisposes a child to this condition. If one parent has dyslexia then the child has a 50 percent chance of developing it; this becomes a 100 percent chance if both parents are dyslexic.
- A common misconception about people with dyslexia is that they reverse words and letters when reading and writing them.
- Though slow readers, dyslexic people tend to be creative and fast thinkers too.