A study has demonstrated that making gestures whilst speaking makes people more fluid in their spoken word. This is just another example of how movement and language are intertwined.
Sensory Integration refers to the hyper or hypo sensitivity to light, sound, touch etc that is especially common in autistic children (Sensory Integration Dysfunction). As a treatment method, sufferers are exposed to gentle stimulation of the senses in a process of systematic desensitization.
Medical News Today is carrying a story about a study that used sensory integration methods with ADHD suffers.
“‘Many children with ADHD also suffer from sensory processing disorder, a neurological underpinning that contributes to their ability to pay attention or focus,’ explained Koenig. ‘They either withdraw from or seek out sensory stimulation like movement, sound, light and touch. This translates into troublesome behaviors at school and home… …Therapy techniques appeal to the three basic sensory systems: The tactile system controls the sense of touch, the vestibular system controls sensations of gravity and movement, and the proprioceptive system regulates the awareness of the body in space. Therapy is tailored to each child’s needs and can involve such techniques as lightly or deeply brushing the skin, moving on swings or working with an exercise ball.
‘We found significant improvement in sensory avoiding behaviors, tactile sensitivity, and visual auditory sensitivity in the group that received treatment,’ said Koenig. ‘The children were more at ease. They could better attend to a lesson in a noisy classroom, or more comfortably participate in family activities,’ said Kinnealey. ‘The behavior associated with ADHD was significantly reduced following the intervention.’”
The text of the study, Comparative Outcomes of Children with ADHD: Treatment Versus Delayed Treatment Control Condition, is not yet available.
The inability to hear someone when there is a persistent background noise has been described as Cocktail Party Deafness. This has been linked to hearing deficits exhibited by many dyslexics and ADHD sufferers (see Assessment at the Sound Learning Centre for more details). An in-depth look at all the factors involved in hearing in a noisy environment can be found here: A Review of The Cocktail Party Effect by Dr Arons of MIT.
Though Myomancy.com focuses non-language / education based methods of dealing with dyslexia its worth remembering that there are more traditional approaches that work. One of these is the Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Method. It is a phonics based program taught one-to-one in a manner that suits how most dyslexic people learn, i.e. multi-sensory with a slow, steady step-by-step approach. There is a more in-depth write up of here. This comes from an informative web site called Bright Solution for Dyslexia.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is used or has been adapted by a number of individual teachers and centres around the country. One of the biggest is Lindamood-Bell who have centres all over the US and one in the UK.
Many thanks Liz and her blog I Speak of Dreams which, amongst other things, deals with dyslexia and other education issues.
BBC Radio 4’s listen again feature is a gold mine of high quality programs. I discovered one from 2002 on the Mozart Effect which is well worth a listen. It looks at the research and theories behind the Mozart Effect and talks to the experts who have studied the music’s effect on a range of people.
At the Aberdare Boys School in South Wales, UK, a study found that "ten children with special educational needs were bombarded with sound by playing orchestral music (mainly Mozart) during normal learning activities. The resultant effect on their behaviour was remarkable."
In a study of epileptic’s, Mozart’s Sonata in D Major for Two Pianos (Mozart – Piano Sonata, K448. Schubert -…) Dr Hughes of University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, USA found that "In 23 of 29 instances significant decreases in epileptiform activity were noted…". Further work by Dr Hughes looked at the effect of other pieces of music found that Bach might also be effective.
The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has an article looking at some studies on the Mozart Effect. Wikipedia has generally negative article on the effect. A good round up of the evidence can be found here
See also Music and IQ
Following on from the earlier post on neural plasticity (and also Remembering to Work Hard) a new study demonstrates how computer software can help change the brain.
The software, Fast ForWord Language, teaches various phonic skills as well as memory and mental coordination skills. The study, Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: Evidence from functional MRI used fMRI scans to show that areas of the dyslexic’s brain relating to reading became active after an intensive eight week course. The study doesn’t prove, in a scientific sense, that the software helps treat dyslexia but it is a promising start though further studies will be needed. More importantly it demonstrates how MRI scanning can be used to help assess the effectiveness of treatment programmes. Hopefully more commercial products will take this approach in the future.
Further coverage in the Stanford Report including a video of Professor Gabrieli talking about the results.
An Australian study [PDF] has studied the impact on auditory processing on children. Expanding on a study of auditory processing initiated in 1999, the researchers gathered AP data on 10,126 Australian primary students (ages 4.7–12 years) for digit span, sentence length, behavior (attentiveness), and literacy achievement. The study found that children with low scores on the initial auditory processing screening were three times as likely to show poor literacy achievement and have inattentive behaviors. They also found that children in the age range 4.7–6 were unable to accurately process sentences longer than 9 words; in the 6–7 age group, longer than 10 words; in the 7–8 age group, longer than 11 words; in the 8–9 age group, longer than 12 words; and in the 9–10 age group, they were unable to accurately process sentences longer than 13 words. As highlighted by the researchers, such specific findings have important implications for pedagogical training and the manner in which teachers communicate with their students.
An interesting study [PDF] conducted by the School of Communication at Northwest University on the confusion that can arise if we watch someones lips making one sound and hear a different sound. This problem integrating the visual cues and the auditory cues is called the McGurk effect (try it out, background ). The study found that children with learning difficulties were effected differently than those without problems. This suggests some underlying difference in the brain relating to how visual and sound cues are combined.
The School of Communication at Northwest University have developed a new audio test to help identify learning disabilities. Called BioMAP (Biological Marker of Auditory Processing) the technology has been licensed to Bio-logic Systems Corp.. According to the press release:
"The BioMAP is a robust and repeatable speech-evoked response that can reliably identify individuals with deficits in the timing of neural responses that cannot be revealed with other stimuli. Unlike conventional brainstem evoked response recordings using clicks or tones, the BioMAP uses speech syllables that better reflect the acoustic and phonetic complexities characteristic of speech. Using electrodes placed on the scalp, the BioMAP reflects neural activity produced by the auditory brainstem in response to speech. These neural events mimic the acoustic characteristics of the speech signal with remarkable fidelity."
Bio-logic Systems Press Release
A new study [PDF] examined children’s ability to hear in quiet and noisy environments. It found that some children with learning difficulties did have more problems than those without. Importantly they also found than a eight week training programme using Cognitive Concept’s Earobics programme helped.