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Professional Corner

A Look at Fast ForWord®:
1st Study Confirms Efficacy after 6 months.

[From a company press release: Keuper Public Relations]

Brain's Proficiency Increases, Children with Language-Learning Problems Acquire Critical Language Skills

A study presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting by Dr. Gail Bedi, an adjunct faculty member of The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Director of Manhattan Neuropsychology in New York, found that children with language problems maintain gains of, on average, 1.5 to 2 years in overall language skills after six months following the conclusion of an innovative neuroscience-based training program that helps them acquire critical language skills in just four weeks.

This is the first study to look at the long-term effectiveness of the neuroscience-based training program developed by Dr. Michael Merzenich and Dr. William Jenkins of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and Dr. Paula Tallal and Dr. Steve Miller of Rutgers University. Their work has contributed to a better understanding of brain plasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt its processes to create new forms of processing, and the neurobiological bases of learning disorders.

It is estimated that up to 40 percent of all children have difficulty understanding oral language, breaking down words, hearing or saying words accurately, or matching the letters in words to the sounds. These oral language skills are critical to learning to read and becoming a better reader.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), children who are most at-risk for reading failure are those who enter school with deficiencies in oral language comprehension.

"A child who does not recognize and process word sounds accurately will not be able to make the right association between letter representations and sounds," said Dr. Reid Lyon, Chief, Child Development and Behavior Branch of the NICHD.

In the study, Dr. Gail Bedi, a Neuropsychologist and certified Special Education teacher, reassessed the receptive language, speech discrimination, and auditory temporal integration thresholds of children who had received the neuroscience-based training program at both six weeks and six months after training was concluded. The two treatment groups studied -- eight children in the modified speech group and nine children in the natural speech group -- were matched for age, ability to understand language, and non-verbal IQ. Each group went through a battery of tests, including the Goldman Fristoe Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination (GFW) and the Token Test for Children. Children who received specialized training continued to perform significantly better 6 weeks and 6 months after training concluded.

"The study provides further support for the efficacy of this innovative program," said Dr. Bedi. "It also suggests that children can maintain their gains made after completing four weeks of oral language skill building."

According to Dr. Bedi, these are critical findings for professionals and teachers working with children with language problems. "An extensive search of the literature reveals that very few, if any, long-term efficacy studies exist for other approaches and therapies."

In creating their neuroscience-based training program, the team of UCSF and Rutgers scientists believed that if a computer algorithm could be developed to extend and differentially amplify the rapidly changing acoustic cues within ongoing speech, children with language-based learning difficulties could process speech and language better.

The scientists developed computer games designed to adaptively change the time between the acoustic cues within various types of oral language stimuli, as well as listening exercises designed to explicitly train phonological discrimination and language comprehension using acoustically modified speech. They then conducted two laboratory studies with children with language-based learning difficulties, the results of which were published in the January 1996, issue of the peer-reviewed journal Science. In each study, children were trained with the acoustically modified speech and adaptive computer games 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks.

The results of the first study demonstrated that adaptively training acoustic-processing rates, coupled with phonological and language processing training with acoustically modified language sounds, resulted in dramatic improvement in an individual's ability to understand spoken language, phonological processing abilities, and language comprehension abilities. On average, children who used the training gained 1.5 to 2 years in overall language skills in the four-week period.

The second study replicated the results of study one, but in this study a treatment control group was added, who received the same training regime, but using natural, not modified language sounds. Improvement made by the modified-speech training group in the rate of acoustic processing, speech discrimination and language comprehension was significantly greater than that made by the natural speech group that received essentially the same training, but with natural, unmodified language sounds.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013