Who are we? Stanford Educational Neuroscience Research Program
CIBSR at Stanford University 650.736.1874
Director: Allan L. Reiss, M.D.
The Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research (CIBSR) at the Stanford
University School of Medicine is dedicated to research that will improve the
lives and well-being of individuals with disorders of the brain. Researchers at
CIBSR strive to establish a better understanding of how neurodevelopmental and
neurogenetic disorders affect brain development and function in relation to
cognition including language, emotion, and behavior. Our research studies are
interdisciplinary efforts, which bring together experts from fields such as
psychiatry, neurology, psychology, and genetics to explore and seek answers to
these complex mind, brain, and behavior questions. We are committed to
finding answers to the puzzle of neurodevelopmental and neurogenetic
disorders so that causes can be identified, varying syndrome courses and
developmental outcomes can be better understood, and treatments can be
The specific goal of the Stanford Educational Neuroscience Research Program is
to link the gaps between educational practice and neuroscience research. Our
current focus is to understand the brain basis of dyslexia and other reading
disabilities and to maximize learning. Our hope is to identify children who will
later have reading problems at an early stage and try to prevent or minimize
reading difficulties. We also hope to develop brain-based interventions for
Who are we?
Stanford Educational Neuroscience
Stanford School of Medicine
For Inquires, please contact:
Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD
Phone: (650) 736-1874
Members of the Program
SENIOR SCIENTISTS Fumiko Hoeft MD PhD, John Gabrieli PhD (MIT),
Connie Juel PhD, Marcel Adam Just PhD (Carnegie-Mellon Univ), Ann
Meyler PhD (Carnegie-Mellon Univ) GRADUATE STUDENTS Jessica M.
Black, Alexander Gantman, Joshua Heitzmann, Candy Ho, Dana
Wittenberg UNDERGRADUATE & HIGH-SCHOOL STUDENTS Emily Dennis
(Whitman College), Nancy Dougherty, Xavier Rotimi Ojo, Sofia Hall-
Gallagher (Head Royce High-School)
Post-Doctoral Scholars Nobuhisa Kobayashi MD PhD, Kaori Koshiishi MD
PhD UNDERGRADUATE & POST-BACCALAUREATE STUDENTS Afrooz
Faizi, Arvel Hernandez, Galena Kolchugina, Jennifer Martindale, Genn
McMillon, Heather Taylor
Individuals with dyslexia are NOT just ‘delayed’ readers 1,3,5
We recently performed two neuroimaging studies with the support from children with
and without dyslexia. In these studies, we found that children with dyslexia show
patterns of brain function and structure that are different not only when we
compared them to their peers who are skilled readers but also when compared to
younger skilled readers who read at the same level as children with dyslexia.
More specifically, children with dyslexia, when compared with age-matched skilled
readers and reading-level matched skilled readers that are younger, showed lower
levels of activation while they judged whether two words rhymed. Rhyme judgment
is thought to be a very important skill when reading. Lower level of brain activation
was mainly observed in the left posterior brain system including a region called the
parieto-temporal region. There was also a reduced amount of grey matter in this left
parieto-temporal region in dyslexic children compared to these two control groups.
These studies show that the reduced amount of brain activation and grey matter in
left posterior cortex may be related to dyslexia per se and not to the level of reading
ability (because dyslexic children were still different from the younger skilled readers
that read at the same level as children with dyslexia). This indicates the need to
provide special reading instructions to children with dyslexia.
Individuals with dyslexia may be compensating with their left
frontal language area 3
In a recent study, we found that children with dyslexia showed greater brain
activation in the left frontal language region compared to their peers when they
were judging whether two words rhymed. Their level of brain activation was not any
different from younger skilled readers. In addition, there were no structural
differences in this region.
Collectively, this study suggests that children with dyslexia may be using this left
frontal language region to compensate just like younger readers when they have to
do a difficult reading-related task. Because we found no evidence of structural
changes here, we think that this region may be related to compensation. These
findings may indicate that we can target this region for brain-based interventions.
Stanford Educational Neuroscience Research Program Page 0 of 4
Useful Links –
Phone: (800) 222-
Phone: (888) 300-
National Center for
Phone: (415) 346-
Potential for predicting future reading skills using neuroimaging 2,4
The ability to translate written letters into language sounds (decode) is essential for
reading success, and accurate identification for children at high risk for decoding
impairment is very important for reducing the frequency and severity of reading
impairment. Current educational practice relies on paper and pencil tests for identifying
and predicting children who will later have reading difficulties.
The goal of this study was to examine whether measures from brain function and
structure when combined with the paper-and-pencil measures will predict outcome much
better than using paper-and-pencil measures alone.
Specific patterns of brain activation while children judged whether two words rhymed,
and brain structure including grey and white matter, predicted later decoding ability.
Further, when we combined measures from paper-and-pencil tests and functional and
structural neuroimaging measures, it predicted decoding outcome much better than just
looking at the paper-and-pencil measures or brain measures.
These findings suggest that neuroimaging methods may be useful in enhancing the early
identification of children at risk for poor reading.
Stanford Educational Neuroscience Research Program Page 0 of 4
We are examining how different brain regions are structurally and functionally
connected to understand the brain basis of dyslexia and reading. We hope to
integrate these measures in our current models so that we can predict outcome
We are examining whether we can predict gains in reading skills in dyslexia. This is
important because some people learn to compensate and some people do not over
the years of their education, and one important question is to ask why and how
these differences occur.
We hope to investigate younger population including children with and without risk
for reading disabilities but before they learn to read to investigate whether we can
predict if they develop dyslexia and other reading difficulties later. This may help
us one day to prevent reading difficulties altogether.
We hope to develop brain-based neurocognitive training using the knowledge we
gained. One example would be to give feedback of brain signal from the frontal
language regions and train people to strengthen these brain regions.
We thank all participants
and their families for their
Past Funding Source:
Richard King Mellon
Institute of Mental Health
(Grant MH029617), William
and Flora Hewlett
Foundation, BrightStar Inc.,
Power4Kids program, Haan
Foundation for Children,
Institute of Education
Sciences, U.S. Department
of Education, Heinz
W.K. Kellogg Foundation,
Ambrose Monell Foundation,
Raymond Foundation, and
Barksdale Reading Institute.
Current Funding Source:
Child Health Research
CIBSR at Stanford
401 Quarry Road
Stanford, CA 94305-5795
We’re on the Web!
See us at:
How You Can Help Your Child
In America today, 5-17% of school-aged children have dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most
common learning disability—80% of all learning disabilities diagnosed today. Because of
this, many children get several grade levels behind in reading and their confidence
levels of doing well in school drop. What these children need to know is that they are
not a “lost cause.” They can improve with the right support and intervention.
Intervention programs can help mitigate reading difficulties that go hand-in-hand with
dyslexia. You can help in certain ways. Children with dyslexia can be victims of bullying
in schools. They are made fun of for not being able to read. Because children are teased
for their difficulties it is even more important to let them know how smart they truly
are. One way is to encourage your child to keep reading and not to give up. Reading a
book is not an overnight accomplishment, therefore it is important to start from the
beginning and take small steps to help your child read.
How Can I Help?
We have recently launched a fund raising campaign to help us advance our
research efforts. Prior donations have enabled us to:
Obtain necessary equipment
Offer better incentives to participants
Increase our recruitment efforts
If you wish to be part of our efforts and assist us, please join our campaign by
making a gift today. You can call (650) 736-1874
Recent Publication from Our Program & References
1. Hoeft, F., Hernandez, A., McMillon, G., Taylor-Hill, H., Martindale, J.L., Meyler, A., Keller, T.A., Siok,
W.T., Deutsch, G., Just, M.A., Gabrieli-Whitfield, S., and Gabrieli, J.D.E. Neural basis of dyslexia: a
comparison between dyslexic children and non-dyslexic children equated for reading ability. J Neurosci
2006; 26(42): 10700-10708.
2. Gantman, A., Wittenberg, D., and Hoeft, F. Novel methods to predict outcome using neuroimaging
[Review]. Psychiatric Times 2006; 13(10): 75-83.
3. Hoeft, F., Meyler, A., Hernandez, A., Juel, C., Taylor-Hill, H., Martindale, J.L., McMillon, G.,
Kolchugena, G., Black, J.M., Faizi, A., Deutsch, G.K., Siok, W.T., Reiss, A.L., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., and
Gabrieli, J.D.E. Functional and morphometric brain dissociation between dyslexia and reading ability.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007;104(10):4234-4239.
4. Hoeft, F., Ueno, T., Reiss, A.L., Meyler, A., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Glover, G., Keller, T.A., Kobayashi,
N., Mazaika, P., Jo, B., Just, M.A., and Gabrieli, J.D.E. Prediction of Children’s Reading Skills Using
Behavioral, Functional And Structural Neuroimaging Measures. Beh Neurosci, in press.
5. Meyler, A., Keller, T.A., Cherkassky, V.L., Lee, D., Hoeft, F., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Gabrieli, J.D.E., and
Just, M.A. Brain activation during sentence comprehension among good and poor readers. Cerebr Cortex,
In the Press
Highfield, Roger. "Clue to Cause Dyslexia." Telegraph UK 20 Feb. 2007. Telegraph
Newspaper. 20 Feb. 2007. 21 Feb. 2007
Sturrock, Carrie, and John Gabrieli. "Playing Music Can Be Good for Your Brain:
Stanford Study finds it Helps the Understanding of Language." SFGate 17 Nov. 2005.
21 Feb. 2007 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-
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