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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2009

12 - Remediating specific learning disabilities

Summary

Neuropsychologists have collaborated with neurologists, educational and school psychologists, and other educators, in studying the nature and treatment of specific learning disabilities (SLD) (e.g. Lyon et al., 2006; Semrud-Clikeman, Fine & Harder, 2005; Moats, 2004). For many years, neuropsychologists have focused their efforts on identifying cognitive correlates of SLD, working from the perspective that children with SLD had qualitatively different learning styles or information processing abilities when compared with other children. However, except for well-replicated difficulties with phonological processing and naming speed among young children at risk of reading problems, consistent correlates or predictors of these differences in learning have not been found. Furthermore, while research on the etiology of SLD, including isolation of chromosomal anomalies in some families with reading disabilities (Plomin & Kovas, 2005), has clarified a biological basis for some SLDs, it has not directly contributed to enhancing either identification or remediation.

Concurrent research in neuropsychology, behavioral genetics, and developmental neuroscience has led to a reconceptualization of the developing brain as “plastic,” and influenced by its milieu throughout the lifespan. For example, functional neuroimaging research has documented brain plasticity in response to reading interventions, buttressing studies showing that specific interventions can improve reading skills in people with dyslexia (Shaywitz et al., 2004). Recent studies have confirmed structural and functional brain differences between good and poor readers.

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