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Dr. Glen Rosen explains causes of dyslexia

by Douglas Abrams

Thursday, the second Huntington Lecture of the year took place in the film lecture hall from 4 to 6.

Organized by the PTSO, the Huntington Lecture Series aims to provide teachers and students with an opportunity to meet in an environment outside of the classroom. The lectures are named in honor of former principal Jennifer Huntington, according to principal Jennifer Price.

Dr. Glenn Rosen, a neuroscientist at Beth Israel hospital, presented information on dyslexia. He began by analyzing the work of Franz Grill, a 17th century scientist that invented the study of phrenology, a detailed look at the size and shape of the brain. This study is used to diagnose patients with mental disabilities.

Rosen explained that phrenology, although no longer practiced today, was extremely important to neurology, as it was the first time that scientists studied the brain in depth. In addition, phrenology began the practice of studying the various regions of the brain independently.

He then focused on dyslexia itself, talking about different factors, such as ectopias or or miss placed brain cells, which form on the brain, that may affect dyslexia. Rosen explained that these ectopias may play into “the trouble that dyslexics have with sensory tests.”

According to Rosen, an example of this effect can be seen in the fact that dyslexics have more trouble hearing tonal differences than people without dyslexia. Also, he said that dyslexics have trouble “seeing contrast.”

After discussing ectopias, Rosen shifted to talking about neurological disorders in animals and what can be learned from them and what can be applied to dyslexia. According to Rosen, the most profound conclusion that scientists have drawn from animal studies is that environment has a huge impact on neurological conditions.

Specifically, Rosen explained that dyslexic rats raised in lavish environments performed better on neurological function tests than dyslexic rats raised in less nice environments.

After that, Rosen explained his work in the field on neurology. “Linking genes to anatomy really excites me,” said Rosen.

The next Huntington Lecture is set to take place Thursday, March 22. Former deputy superintendent Brenda Keegan will give a presentation on Jane Austen’s novels from 4 to 6 in the film lecture hall.

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