Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Our Studies

Recruiting Studies

Cognitive and Neural Processes in Reading Comprehension

  • Grant Number: R01HD044073
  • PI: Laurie E. Cutting, Ph.D.
  • Study Duration: May 2004 – April 2014
  • Sponsor: NICHD, GCRC

Researchers have established the importance of single word reading to reading comprehension. However, there is a significant number of children (approximately 3%), predominantly ten years of age and older, who are poor comprehenders, but nevertheless attain scores within the normal range on conventional measures of single word reading, which typically measure accuracy only. We will examine potential sources of poor reading comprehension among children and adolescents by studying subjects with poor single word reading, subjects with poor reading comprehension despite normal scores on tests of single word reading, and controls with typically developing reading skills. We will integrate functional neuroimaging data that examines group differences in activation during single word reading, phonological awareness and sentences reading comprehension, with behavioral measures of naming fluency, language skills (i.e., vocabulary), executive function (i.e., planning, organizing, and self-monitoring), single word reading, phonological skills, and passage reading comprehension.

Dyslexia in Post-Secondary Students

  • Grant Number: K08 HD060850
  • PI: Sheryl L. Rimrodt, M.D.
  • Study Duration: August 2010 – July 2015
  • Sponsor: NICHD

Dyslexia (also known as reading disability) is typically diagnosed in someone who doesn’t do well on tests that measure word reading skills.  Many adults with a childhood history of dyslexia eventually learn the word reading skills needed to do well on such a test, yet traces of the dyslexia can often still be detected when these adults take tests that measure basic pre-reading language skills called phonological processing.  This research study will help us understand how learning words may occur differently in adults with dyslexia than individuals with no history of difficulty learning to read.  We will ask for a few hours of your time to take tests that measure reading-related skills and to get an MRI of your brain. We need two types of volunteers:

  1. Young adults (over 18 years old) who have had difficulty learning to read, now or in the past.
  2. Young adults (over 18 years old) who never had difficulty learning to read.

Pilot Study – Just 2 simple (pencil/paper) word reading tests and 1 computerized reading test.

No MRI scan!    $25 for less than 1 hour of your time! Limited time offer.

More information:

Predicting Late-Emerging Reading Disability

  • Grant Number: R01HD067254
  • PI: Laurie E. Cutting, Ph.D.
  • Study Duration: September 28, 2010 – July 31, 2015
  • Sponsor: NICHD

Few studies have investigated the nature of children who develop reading disabilities at or around the 4th-5th grade. Late-emerging Reading Disability (LERD) affects approximately 20 – 46 % of children identified as having a reading disability in late elementary school. Thus, it is likely that LERD is a significant contributing factor to the prevalence of reading failure in 4th and 8th grades (which is about 30%; NAEP, 2007). The goal of this study is to determine the cognitive and neurobiological profile associated with LERD, and establish how LERD is similar or different than early reading failure (RD-E). To accomplish this goal, the study will first gather data to determine the cognitive and neurobiological profile of a sample of 5th graders who have been identified as having LERD. We hypothesize that children with LERD will show a distinct cognitive and neurobiological profile, as compared to RD-E, that will be apparent in various aspects of their oral language and executive function (attention, memory, motor skills). Secondly, we will utilize the established cognitive and neurobiological profile of the 5th graders with LERD to guide the development of a predictive battery of cognitive and neurobiological tests to identify children at risk for LERD in earlier grades. We plan to follow the children identified as being at risk for LERD for several years, acquiring behavioral and neuronal data to better understand the development of LERD. This line of research can assist schools in determining what measures should included as early identifiers for those at risk for LERD and developing early intervention programs for those at risk for LERD. The research obtained through this study will be extremely valuable due to the fact that, in addition to learning specifically about LERD, we will contribute generally to the present understanding of brain maturation, particularly connectivity, over time.

Brain Connectivity and Academic Growth in Kindergarten

  • Grant Number: T32HD060554
  • PI: Dwayne Dove, MD/PhD
  • Study Duration: September 2012 - May 2013
  • Sponsor: NICHD

By the 4th grade, 33% of children struggle with basic reading, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP 2011). Kindergarten education is a critical step towards reading literacy because this is generally when children begin formally learning pre-reading skills. Very few studies have used brain-imaging techniques to study children in Kindergarten. New brain imaging technologies have led to a better understanding of which parts of brain are involved in reading. Shorter imaging times and improved behavioral strategies have allowed younger children to complete scans more easily. These advances make the current study feasible and novel. This research project will look to see if stronger white matter connections increase the growth of pre-reading skills during Kindergarten. This study will help to understand how reading works and ultimately could lead to new ways of identifying students that are at risk for reading disorders like dyslexia.

More information:

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