Sophisticated brain imaging can be used to identify if teenagers with dyslexia can improve their reading skills over time with 90% accuracy, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers conducted a study to determine whether neuroimaging could predict reading improvement, and enrolled 25 children with dyslexia and 25 children with typical reading skills, who were aged around 14 years.

They assessed their reading with standardised tests, and then conducted two types of imaging – functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging – as children performed reading tasks.

A follow-up study after two-and-a-half years was conducted to determine which brain image taken at baseline would predict the reading improvement in the child.

The study revealed that dyslexic children who showed greater activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus during a specific task and whose white matter connected to this right frontal region at baseline were better organised and showed a greater improvement in reading during the study period.

In addition, by looking at patterns of activation across the whole brain, researchers were able to very accurately predict future reading gains in the children with dyslexia.

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The researchers noted that functional MRI is typically viewed as a research tool that has little practical implication for an individual with dyslexia, but added that these findings suggest that it could be used as a prognostic tool.