It is an everyday struggle with letters: For 5-10% of all elementary school children, learning to read seems like an insurmountable challenge. They suffer from developmental dyslexia, a developmental brain disorder that persists into adulthood and occurs in all written languages. Treatment methods for DD have been available for several years. However, these consist of a time-consuming, multi-year training with speech therapists and psychologists. Because reading is so fundamental to modern society, people with DD are often hindered to reach their full potential both in school and at the work place. The overall societal costs of DD are high.
The development of more effective treatment is therefore urgently needed, but is hampered by a lack of understanding about the underlying brain dysfunction. In this regard, the research approach of neuroscientist Katharina von Kriegstein offers hope. With her team at Technische Universität Dresden, she has found that some of the dysfunction in DD may lie in the sensory pathways, the brain structures that connect the eyes and ear to the rest of the brain. Previously, researchers had focused for decades on explaining DD through dysfunctional mechanisms in the brain’s language centers.
Now, with the new “ReDyslexia” project, she hopes to build on these promising approaches to better understand sensory pathway dysfunction. This knowledge could then be applied for direct use in the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia.
“ReDyslexia has brought together a group of outstanding scientists who will study sensory pathway function in developmental dyslexia from animal models to the clinic. We aim to combine basic research with studies of brain function in children and adults with dyslexia. Based on this basic neuroscience understanding, we will use neurostimulation to make current therapeutic approaches more effective. I’m very happy to be able to do this important interdisciplinary work with such a fantastic team,” explains neuroscientist Katharina von Kriegstein.
This article is based on a press release from the Technische Universität Dresden.