Brain Activity Can Be Used to Predict Reading Success up to 2 Years in Advance

Summary: Researchers study event related potentials to help predict children’s reading levels in years to come.

Source: Binghampton University.

By measuring brainwaves, it is possible to predict what a child’s reading level will be years in advance, according to research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Binghamton University researchers Sarah Laszlo and Mallory Stites measured the brain activity of children and then compared it to their report cards, their vocabulary and other signs of reading success two years later, as part of the National Science Foundation-funded Reading Brain Project. Laszlo and Stites used event-related potentials (ERPs) to determine that brain activity was different in children who showed reading success in later years than in children that did not.

“Your brain is what allows you to do everything, from math to designing buildings to making art,” said Laszlo, associate professor of psychology at Binghamton University. “If we look at what the brain is doing during reading, it is a really good predictor of how reading will develop.”

The children read a list of words silently to themselves. Every so often they would come across their own name to make sure they were understanding the text and paying attention. Children that had better report cards tended to show different patterns of activity during both phonological (sound) and semantic (meaning) processing..

“Phonological processing is the ability to sound things out and semantic processing is knowing what words mean,” said Laszlo. “Like being able to link the word fish with a slimy creature that swims underwater.”

Other factors were included when measuring the reading success of students, such as their teachers, their parents’ encouragement, their age and the amount that they read at home.

Image shows children's books.
Other factors were included when measuring the reading success of students, such as their teachers, their parents’ encouragement, their age and the amount that they read at home. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.

“The thing that is really valuable about this is that once kids starting having trouble with reading, they start needing extra help, which can be hard and stigmatizing for the child and often not effective,” said Laszlo. “By using long-range predictions about success, we can give them the extra help they need before they fall behind.”

The team is currently working on a paper to record the findings from the first four years of this research. At the end of the fifth year, Laszlo and her team will look back to see what predictions can be made regarding ERP’s and reading progress.

About this neuroscience research article

Funding: National Science Foundation funded this study.

Source: Sarah Laszlo – Binghampton University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Time will tell: A longitudinal investigation of brain-behavior relationships during reading development” by Mallory C. Stites, and Sarah Laszlo in Psychophysiology. Published online February 21 2017 doi:10.1111/psyp.12844

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article

[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Binghampton University “Brain Activity Can Be Used to Predict Reading Success up to 2 Years in Advance.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 27 March 2017.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/reading-brain-activity-6295/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Binghampton University (2017, March 27). Brain Activity Can Be Used to Predict Reading Success up to 2 Years in Advance. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved March 27, 2017 from https://neurosciencenews.com/reading-brain-activity-6295/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Binghampton University “Brain Activity Can Be Used to Predict Reading Success up to 2 Years in Advance.” https://neurosciencenews.com/reading-brain-activity-6295/ (accessed March 27, 2017).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]


Abstract

Time will tell: A longitudinal investigation of brain-behavior relationships during reading development

ERPs are a powerful tool for the study of reading, as they are both temporally precise and functionally specific. These are essential characteristics for studying a process that unfolds rapidly and consists of multiple, interactive subprocesses. In work with adults, clear, specific models exist linking components of the ERP with individual subprocesses of reading including orthographic decoding, phonological processing, and semantic access (e.g., Grainger & Holcomb, 2009). The relationships between ERP components and reading subprocesses are less clear in development; here, we address two questions regarding these relationships. First, we ask whether there are ERP markers that predict future reading behaviors across a longitudinal year. Second, we ask whether any relationships observed between ERP components and reading behavior across time map onto the better-established relationships between ERPs and reading subprocesses in adults. To address these questions, we acquired ERPs from children engaging in a silent reading task and then, a year later, collected behavioral assessments of their reading ability. We find that ERPs collected in Year 1 do predict reading behaviors a year later. Further, we find that these relationships do conform, at least to some extent, to relationships between ERP components and reading subprocesses observed in adults, with, for example, N250 amplitude in Year 1 predicting phonological awareness in Year 2, and N400 amplitude in Year 1 predicting vocabulary in Year 2.

“Time will tell: A longitudinal investigation of brain-behavior relationships during reading development” by Mallory C. Stites, and Sarah Laszlo in Psychophysiology. Published online February 21 2017 doi:10.1111/psyp.12844

Feel free to share this Neuroscience News.
Join our Newsletter
I agree to have my personal information transferred to AWeber for Neuroscience Newsletter ( more information )
Sign up to receive our recent neuroscience headlines and summaries sent to your email once a day, totally free.
We hate spam and only use your email to contact you about newsletters. You can cancel your subscription any time.