Improve Dyslexia by Improving the Cerebellum!

Dyslexia is a topic that I have found much controversy around, many people I think that it needs to be a approached every systematic linear way. I do agree with this approach and I think it vital for children with dyslexia to be approached in this manner. The current goal of treatment is to use a reading system that helps the child to learn to read with the left side of the brain and create better connectivity. This is were reading is supposed to take place, but many kids with dyslexia tend to have inefficiencies here.


I do agree with this approach and I think it works very well for most kids of dyslexia. What I found is that for some this approach does work and for others it doesn’t work. In the cases that is doesn’t work as well those children tend to have a cerebellar dysfunction. There’s a growing body of research for the cerebellar deficit hypothesis. This hypothesis points to the right cerebellum as being a large part of a child’s reading problem.

In the following paragraphs I am going to summarize the study, but the language they use can be very confusing so I will explain it simply here. The right cerebellum (the red in the image above) is what coordinate the left side of the brain, and if dysfunctional it doesn’t allow the left side (reading side) of the brain to be efficient.

The cerebellum is what makes everything smooth and coordinated, meaning it coordinated the left side of your brain. If the left side of your brain isn’t coordinated it results in lack of coordination of thought, speech, phonetics, sequencing, and much more related to reading.

The cerebellum is also what helps coordinate your eye tracking and visual perception, if dysfunctional it creates abnormal visual input, this is not discussed in the article below, but backed by other studies (2) (3) (4).  I have found that the cerebellum seems to be ignored in many kids with dyslexia or reading issues. I have also found that when we get this area of the brain healthy it makes substantial improvements in their health overall and their reading skills!


The study I am going to discuss is out of Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. The name if it is: Current perspectives on the cerebellum and reading development. 


The study talks about how in addition to reading impairments they found that many children with dyslexia also exhibited impairments in sensory motor function such as poor balance, coordination, and slowed information processing. These are all functions of your cerebellum. And this is what I also find in clinical practice. I’ve also found that when we improve the sensory motor functions the reading improves as well.


The study goes on to say that the cerebellum contributes to reading skills via two indirect processes: Articulatory/ phonological ability and skill automatization. In this model, impairments of articulatory fluency lead to difficulties in engaging speech processes that contribute to reading development. This aspect of the model is consistent with reviewed evidence that the cerebellum contributes to articulatory motor control, in that speech-based processes contribute to reading in phonological representation. They also reason that if the cerebellar procedural learning system was impaired, it could lead to disadvantages in automatic recognition of printed words.


In the study they also examine functional connectivity between these groups during reading related tasks. Both groups exhibited synchronous signal changes between the left inferior frontal gyrus and the right cerebellar lobules, the individuals with dyslexia exhibited less synchrony than the controls. They also examined the integrity of microstructural white matter tracts that connect the cerebellum and three reading associated cerebral regions: The inferior frontal, temporal parietal, and occipito-temporal cortex. What they found is in children with dyslexia had aberrant white matter integrity in cerebellar tracts that connect to these areas. 


What this meta analysis tells me is that in conjunction with current protocols for dyslexia, a motor development and cerebellar development program should be utilized to improve children’s outcomes. Specifically focused on right cerebellar development! 
In my following blogs this week I will discuss nutritional, and lifestyle considerations for improving cerebellar function. I will also discuss the current evidence for cerebellar development activities. 
Has anyone else noticed this obvious lack of motor skills in these kids with reading delays? 

If you have a child that you think would benefit from a motor development program I can be reached at drjosh@iowainfinity.com

References:
(1) Travis A. Alvarez, Julie A. Fiez. Current perspectives on the cerebellum and reading development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 2018 pages 55-66. 

(2) Fan Cao, Xin Yan, Gregory J. Spray, Yanni Liu and Yuan Deng. Brain Mechanisms Underlying Visuo-orthographic Deficits in Children with developmental dyslexia. Frontiers of human Neuroscience. 2018

(3) Roderick I. Nicolson, Angela J. Fawcett. Developmental Dyslexia: the Delayed Neural Commitment Framwork. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. May 2019.

(4) Thomas D. W. Wilcockson, Diako Mardanbegi. Oculomotor and Inhibitory control in Dyslexia. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. January 2019

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