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Slide Slam K6

The use of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to improve reading difficulties in dyslexia: a systematic review

Slide Slam Session K, Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6:00 - 8:00 am PDT Log In to set Timezone

Sabrina Turker1, Gesa Hartwigsen1; 1Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) allows to actively and non-invasively interfere with brain function. Across recent years, different NIBS protocols have been used to probe the causal relevance of specific brain regions for different language and reading-related tasks. Aside from inhibiting specific processes, NIBS may also be used to enhance cognitive functions. As such, facilitatory NIBS protocols have the potential to alleviate different symptoms and difficulties in various disordered populations, such as individuals with learning disorders. Such an approach may be particularly promising to support training of reading and writing skills in individuals with dyslexia. However, despite the growing interest in modulating learning abilities, a comprehensive, up-to-date review synthesizing NIBS studies with dyslexics from behavioral and neural viewpoints is missing. Here, we fill this gap and elucidate the potential of NIBS as treatment option in individuals with dyslexia in a systematic review. The findings of the 14 included intervention studies suggest that repeated sessions of reading training (e.g., spelling training) combined with different NIBS protocols may induce long-lasting improvements of reading performance in child and adult dyslexics, opening promising avenues for future research. In particular, the “classical” reading areas of the left hemisphere seem to be most successfully modulated through NIBS, and facilitatory NIBS protocols may improve various reading-related subprocesses (e.g., word, pseudoword or text reading). Investigating the causal relevance of specific brain regions for reading in dyslexics can help shed further light on the reading circuits and their contributions to particular reading-related tasks. Finally, we point out that future studies should combine NIBS with neuroimaging to increase our understanding of the neurobiological basis of NIBS-induced improvements in dyslexia, and explore short-term plasticity within the reading circuits.

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