Scientists believe a simple brain scan could detect dyslexia in youngsters - before they even start learning to read.

Currently, a diagnosis of dyslexia isn't made until the age of seven or eight, yet experts at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Children's Hospital Boston, believe they can identify the condition in children as young as four.

The experts claim that by finding the problem before children start reading, they can start to address it by looking for symptoms in spoken language. These can include difficulty with rhyming, confusing similar-sounding words or mispronouncing words.

In the report, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nadine Gaab, of the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, said that early identification could also help build confidence in the youngsters: "Often, by the time they get a diagnosis, they usually have experienced three years of peers telling them they are stupid, parents telling them they are lazy. We know they have reduced self esteem. They are really struggling."

The team has now received a grant from the National Institute of Health to carry out a larger study into their findings.

Posted by Robert Mair on 25/1/2012