Research News Fall 2017 Issue 42

Research News

Brain regions that grew significantly thicker in reading-disabled children whose reading improved after an intensive summer treatment program, as shown in the red and yellow areas. Neither a control group nor children who did not respond to treatment exhibited changes in brain structure. Image: Rachel Romeo
Brain regions that grew significantly thicker in reading-disabled children whose reading improved after an intensive summer treatment program, as shown in the red and yellow areas. Neither a control group nor children who did not respond to treatment exhibited changes in brain structure. Image: Rachel Romeo

Educators have devised a variety of interventions to try to help children with reading difficulties. Not every program helps every student, however, in part because the origins of their struggles are not identical. McGovern neuroscientist John Gabrieli is trying to identify factors that may help to predict individual children’s responses to different types of interventions. He recently found that children from lower-income families responded much better to a summer reading program than children from a higher socioeconomic background. Read the full story >>

Nancy Kanwisher has collaborated with clinical colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital to examine intracranial recordings in human patients undergoing epilepsy surgery. In this study, led by postdoc Leyla Isik, the researchers analyzed neural activity recorded via a grid of electrodes on the surface of the brain, as subjects watched movies. Based on these signals, the researchers could decode what the person was seeing at a given time—for example, whether there was an animal in the scene. By using movies rather than static images, Kanwisher and colleagues hope to come closer to understanding how the brain processes natural stimuli in an ever-changing real world.

Ed Boyden and colleagues have devised a way to image biopsy samples with much higher resolution than conventional methods—an advance that could help doctors develop more accurate and inexpensive diagnostic tests. The new technique, termed “ExPath,” relies on an approach known as expansion microscopy in which researchers expand a tissue sample to 100 times its original volume before imaging it. In their study, Boyden and his colleagues combine the ExPath technique with computational image analysis to distinguish early-stage breast lesions with high or low risk of progressing to cancer—a task that is difficult for pathologists using conventional microscopic methods. Read the full story >>

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