Genetic and EEG Biomarkers of Dyslexia (SPELL Study)

Connecting genetics and functional brain imaging of dyslexia in newborns

While reading difficulty is the most well known symptom of dyslexia, the disorder is rooted in differences in processing speech sounds. Dyslexia is heritable and there are certain genes that have been found to put someone at risk for developing it. Prior research has shown that variations in these genes cause some neurons to end up in the wrong places when the brain is growing, even before a baby is born. This change in wiring results in disruption of normal oscillations in brain activity in the parts of the brain that process sounds. This can be seen with EEG.

This research is looking to connect these variations in genes to the changes in brain activity. By studying babies very soon after birth, we should isolate the effects of the genes as much as possible. In the future, this will lead to a better understanding of how dyslexia develops in the brain and maybe to the ability to test for it in very young infants.