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The Special Needs Brain: Addressing Learning Struggles

The Special Needs Brain:

Research That’s Changing How We Address Learning Struggles

As a leader in field of cognitive training research, the Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research (, along with one-on-one brain training company LearningRx ( has gathered some of the top research related to special needs and learning struggles. For parents and educators seeking ways to address, train and measure brain skills—such as attention, processing speed, logic & reasoning, visual and auditory processing, and memory—staying on top of game-changing neuroscience is vital. Here are some of the latest scientific findings regarding ADHD, autism, dyslexia, IQ, brain function, learning struggles and more.

  1. Giving kids omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids improves reading skills.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that after three months, children who took the supplements had improved reading skills compared to those who received placebos. According to the lead research, Mats Johnson, “The gains were particularly evident in the children’s ability to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce it correctly (phonologic decoding), and the ability to read a series of letters quickly (visual analysis time).”

PUBLISHED IN: The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry


  1. IQ can change.

A first of its kind study has found a one-on-one cognitive training program improved cognitive skills and IQ scores by 21 points in students ages 8 to 14. The ThinkRx® training program, created by leading researchers and experts at LearningRx, significantly improved an average IQ and seven cognitive skills: associative memory, working memory, long-term memory, visual, processing, auditory processing, logic and reasoning and processing speed.

PUBLISHED IN: The Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology


  1. We may be able to predict dyslexia three years early.

Researchers at MIT have discovered that a region of the brain dedicated to reading has connections long before children learn to read. By evaluated the connections of that area of the brain to other regions, the researchers could predict exactly where each child’s visual word form area would develop.

PUBLISHED IN: Nature Neuroscience


  1. Brain training has been shown to significantly increase cognitive skills.
    Two studies testing the efficacy of the LearningRx one-on-one cognitive training program and its computer-based version (Brainskills) in laboratory and school settings found that both created significant gains in working memory, logic and reasoning, and three of four math attitude measures.

PUBLISHED IN: Journal of Experimental Education: Learning, Instruction, and Cognition


  1. Even small increases in sleep improve grades.

Researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute found that elementary school-age children who improved their sleep habits also boosted their grades. Even just 18 minutes more per school night had a “significant impact” on report card grades.

PUBLISHED IN: Sleep Medicine


  1. We can create new connections in the brain.

A Randomized Control Trial (RCT) testing LearningRx’s ThinkRx program found that the brains of the participating high school students had significant physical changes after completing the 15-week personal brain training, including:

  • Significant changes in the resting state connectivity
  • An increase in global network efficiency
  • Network changes in the brain correlated to auditory processing gains

PRESENTED AT: Center for Brain Health Annual Symposium: Reprogramming the Brain to Health: Computational Psychiatry and Neurology, University of Texas at Dallas, 2016


  1. Childhood music lessons improve attention skills.

When researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine looked at the brain scans of 232 children (ages 6 to 18), they found that the cortical thickness in the brain of those who played a music instrument matured faster. This area of the brain is associated with motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, and emotion and impulse regulation. The more a child trained on an instrument, the faster the cortical organization in attention, anxiety management and emotional control.

PUBLISHED IN: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry


  1. You can train a child’s thinking and learning skills.
    Children who completed a 24-week ThinkRx cognitive training program had significant gains in long-term memory, logic and reasoning, working memory, processing speed, auditory processing, and Word Attack.

PUBLISHED IN: Vision Development and Rehabilitation


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