PROMISE PROJECT is investigating for the first time how important brain circuits contribute to reading disabilities. We have begun this effort by initiating a pilot Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study aimed at understanding whether abnormalities in the structure, function, and connectivity of the neural circuits that support executive functions and learning contribute to the manifestation of learning disabilities and other conditions such as ADHD in children.
PROMISE Investigators are interested in understanding how the circuits that support different kinds of learning are abnormal in children with reading disorders. Thus, we use multi-modal MRI measures to study the structure, function, and connectivity of the discrete neural circuits that support different types of learning in children with reading disabilities. We hypothesize that disruptions in learning systems affect the acquisition of academic skills such as reading, and that this relationship is mediated by brain structure, function, and connectivity.
If we can identify differences in learning systems that contribute to the development of learning disabilities, we then can design novel intervention and prevention programs. Gold standard neuropsychological assessments do not include measures of many of these learning systems. Assessing these systems holds the potential for early identification and development of treatments for children with learning disabilities.
The circuits we are studying support the behaviors that are relevant in the classroom, we hope this research will:
• Identify biomarkers of the disorder
• Translate from laboratory to classroom
• Provide practical suggestions for prevention and intervention