I predict a lot of publicity (good and bad) for Wynford Dore and his Dore Treatment Centres over the coming weeks. The ex-Rugby player who has been on the Dore program to treat his dyslexia is appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. Kenny Logan has spoke out about hows the Dore program changed everything on several occasions. Wynford Dore has stated that Kenny Logan (and fellow celeb Toya Wilcox) that they attended the program as ordinary customers and were not approached by Dore.
In Sweden, they have been doing research on the impact of white noise (static) on the performance of children ADHD. Unexpectedly they found that it improved the performance of those with ADHD but reduced the performance of the control group of non-ADHD kids. The author goes on to speculate that dopamine levels underly this behaviour. A summary of the research can be found on Medical News Today or you can read the researcher’s thesis on the subject: Noise Improves Cognitive Performance in Children with Dysfunctional Dopaminergic Neurotransmission [ PDF ]
In the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, Professor Dorothy Bishop of the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University has written an article questioning the validity of research done on the Dore Program.
Abstract: Dore Achievement Centres are springing up world-wide with a mission to cure cerebellar developmental delay, thought to be the cause of dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyspraxia and Asperger’s syndrome. Remarkable success is claimed for an exercise-based treatment that is designed to accelerate cerebellar development. Unfortunately, the published studies are seriously flawed. On measures where control data are available, there is no credible evidence of significant gains in literacy associated with this intervention. There are no published studies on efficacy with the clinical groups for whom the programme is advocated. It is important that family practitioners and paediatricians are aware that the claims made for this expensive treatment are misleading.
This isn’t the first time the research has been questioned and most recently it lead to five people resigning from the Dyslexia Journal’s editorial board. Though there are questions about why only those five, out of twenty plus board members, resigned.
Professor Bishop has a long and notable history of research into dyslexia, ADHD and autism. This includes research relating to motor control, timing and language problems that did find that a genetic problem could cause both language and motor problems.
A timed peg-moving task was used to assess motor skill. Children with combined speech and language impairments obtained poorer peg-moving scores than unaffected children. Bivariate DeFries-Fulker analysis found significant shared genetic variance for impairments on peg-moving and on a test of nonword repetition. It is concluded that genes that put the child at risk for communicative problems also affect motor development, with the association being most evident when speech production is affected.
Without access to the full text of Professor Bishop’s article its impossible to say how fair her criticism of the Dore research is. There are certainly problems with the research relating to control groups and how the children’s progress was measured but all research has issue, especially when dealing with children and a treatment that takes 12 months to complete. Check out this recent research that showed that many medical research papers have miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis to gauge the difficulties in producing research that cannot be criticised. As ever we need more research before we can find the truth.
Curing dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder by training motor co-ordination: Miracle or myth?Motor immaturity and specific speech and language impairment: Evidence for a common genetic basis
Remember those scientists who resigned over publication of research into the Dore Program? At the time it was odd that only five or the twenty or so experts on the Dyslexia Journal’s expert panel resigned. If the research was of such poor quality why didn’t all the experts resign? This suggested that there was something going on over and above a simple dispute about a scientific paper.
Now we have some more information. The five people who resigned are:
According to a Sunday Time article, they resigned because of “concerns over apparent conflicts of interest” and “[the paper’s author’s] working relationship with Angela Fawcett, editor of Dyslexia”. As these are the stated reasons I think it is worth examining the connections between the five rebels.
- Professors Snowling and Hulme are married to each other
- Snowling and Hulme (plus one other) jointly received a £1.26M research grant from the Wellcome Trust
- Snowling, Hulme, and Hatcher all work in the same department in York University. In fact Snowling and Hulme (along with two others) run the department and control its budget
- Rack is the Dyslexia Action’s Head of Assessment and Evaluation whilst Snowling is an Honorary Fellow
- Rack works in Dyslexia Action’s York office which is based in York University close to Snowling’s, Hulme’s and Hatcher’s officers
- On her department’s website, Uta Frith lists Snowling as a collaborator
- All five have written and published papers with each other on numerous occasions including one attacking the Dore program
There is nothing unusual or wrong about these connections. Pick any five scientists working in the same field and you will find similar connections. This is how science works. What is wrong is for this gang of five to carry out a cheap stunt in order to criticise others for potential conflict of interests and close working relations when they themselves enjoy a similar situation.
The real reason behind the gang of five’s resignation is simply professional rivalry. All five have spent many years doing research into phonic based treatments of dyslexia so naturally they are against Dore’s approach that potentially invalidates their life’s work. Such rivalry is healthy and has characterised many of the great scientific debates but cheap stunts and newspaper articles should play no part in science.
The latest work from the University of Washington is science-by-press-release but the results look very interesting.
Using new software developed to investigate how the brains of dyslexic children are organized, University of Washington researchers have found that key areas for language and working memory involved in reading are connected differently in dyslexics than in children who are good readers and spellers.
However, once the children with dyslexia received a three-week instructional program, their patterns of functional brain connectivity normalized and were similar to those of good readers when deciding if sounds went with groups of letters in words.
Original Press Release: Having right timing ‘connections’ in brain is key to overcoming dyslexia
The most interesting study covered in Dyslexia and the Cerebellum: The Missing Evidence has an interesting connection to other studies covered on Myomancy.
Premature babies often have learning difficulties in later life. Quite often, the more premature the baby, the worse these are. This has been linked to the babies having an underdeveloped cerebellum. In the post Cerebellum More Than Just a Motor we reported that a baby who had a poorly developed right cerebellum would also have a poorly developed left cerebrum (i.e. the thinking, frontal part of the brain). The study on speech and the cerebellum found that right cerebellum was tightly linked to the left, frontal lobes. It is not hard to imagine that if one half of this speech system is damaged, then the other half fails to develop properly because of a lack of stimulation. All this points to a strong connection between the development of the cerebellum and language skills.
The cerebellum / speech paper came from the journal Cerebellum and it is certainly one I will be keeping an eye on. It has many fascinating studies that point to the role of the cerebellum in dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Here are couple choice morsels.
In conclusion, the cerebellum seems to play an important role in many higher cognitive functions especially in learning.
And one for Kevin at Tick Tock Talk, the IQ and rhythm blog:
Timing of rhythmic movements in patients with cerebellar degeneration
…these results provide further evidence that the integrity of the cerebellum is especially important for event timing…
Ever since I started Myomancy, I’ve been banging on about the cerebellum as the cause of dyslexia. Quite reasonably, many people asked why the cerebellum, an area of the brain linked that controls muscles, should have anything to do with dyslexia but I couldn’t give them a good answer.
Now I can, thanks to research found by BrainBlog
The paper looks at how the cerebellum is involved in speech and is based on clinical observations and fMRI data. Here is part of the abstract (emphasis added).
Recent functional imaging data point at a contribution of the right cerebellar hemisphere, concomitant with language-dominant dorsolateral and medial frontal areas, to the temporal organization of a prearticulatory verbal code (‘inner speech’), in terms of the sequencing of syllable strings at a speaker’s habitual speech rate. Besides motor control, this network also appears to be engaged in executive functions, e.g., subvocal rehearsal mechanisms of verbal working memory, and seems to be recruited during distinct speech perception tasks. Taken together, thus, a prearticulatory verbal code bound to reciprocal right cerebellar/left frontal interactions might represent a common platform for a variety of cerebellar engagements in cognitive functions. The distinct computational operation provided by cerebellar structures within this framework appears to be the concatenation of syllable strings into coarticulated sequences.
Translated, this mean that the cerebellum and speech / language areas of the brain are tightly connected in a cross lateral way. e.g. right side of the cerebellum links to left frontal lobe. This connection effects many aspects of speech and also the ability to decode what is being said by others.
Anyone who has a problem with this connection will have problems pronouncing words and differentiating between different but similar phonemes. e.g. ph / th / v / f. This is exactly the sort of problem many dyslexics have. The research didn’t look into how the cerebellum effects spelling but learning to speak and hear different phoneme is vital to learning to spell (hence the whole phonics movement).
This is only small step to proving how cerebellum exercise programs such as Dore tackle dyslexia but it is an important step. It clearly links the cerebellum to how we use and understand the sounds that make up our language.
A new study has looked at the different processes involved in reading: phonics (a letter by letter sounding out of words); contextual clues (earlier parts of sentences that help readers anticipate upcoming words); and holistic word recognition, or the physical shape of words.
In the study, the researchers prevented readers using one of these strategies in turn. For example, to prevent the reader using the visual appearance of the word as a clue they mixed up the case: ThIs tExT AlTeRnAtEs iN cAsE. By then analysing reading rates the researchers calculated that phonics accounts for the lion’s share (62%) of the adult reading rate. Visual word recognition accounts for only a small fraction (16%) of reading rate and the words context accounts for 22% of reading rate, on average.
This study shows that phonics is the single most important factor in reading but almost 40% of adults read is based on other factors. It would be interesting to run this test on adult dyslexics how have learnt to read to see if dyslexic readers use really on content or word recognition more than non-dyslexics.
Coverage in Scientific America and the original study: Parts, Wholes, and Context in Reading: A Triple Dissociation
Cognitive Daily has a interesting study on how memory is effected by body posture. Memory problems play a large part in dyslexia and ADHD so any research in this area could have relevance to these problems. Its also worth noting that dyslexia and ADHD are also associated with balance and coordination. In fact dyslexics even seem to have their own way of walking.
A round up Myomancy’s coverage of Omega-3 for ADHD and dyslexia.
Omega 3 & 6 can help more than dyslexia and ADHD. It has been linked to mental and physical health problems. After a mining accident Randal McCloy Jr. suffered CO2 poisoning and was left in coma. Large doses of omega-3 have been credited in his remarkable recovery.
Don’t know you EPA from your AA then read ALA to DHA: The Fish Oil Alphabet to learn how Omega-3 and Omega-6 are just the start of a complex process.
Recently VegEPA has been stealing the media limelight from EyeQ, the people behind the Durha, trial.
Are omega-3 & 6 supplement safe or do these fish oils have side effects.