Fast ForWord Overview 3 of 5: The Science

A Proven Impact

It’s unlikely that your students will ask you if Fast ForWord is evidence-based, but in the rare case they do ask, or if a colleague from down the hall asks, you’ll know what to say because you took this course.

Fast ForWord is proven by 30+ years of research and development, making it one of the most researched reading interventions available. (It’s true, we checked!)

But it’s not just proven in the lab; numerous case studies have been conducted in schools like yours, showcasing the results of the Fast ForWord program. 

How Fast ForWord Changes the Brain

We know that our brains are hard-wired and ready to learn spoken language, which means that we learn how to speak naturally, socially, without explicit instruction. But when it comes to learning to read, that’s a different story.

Did you know that according to extensive research by cognitive neuroscientist Stanislaus DeHaene, in order to be a successful reader, we basically have to “recycle” specific regions of the brain that deal with spoken language and pattern recognition? Explicit instruction in reading is one of the catalysts that drives the development of connections in the brain between these regions. 

But the brains of students with reading challenges, such as dyslexia, have difficulty or disruption with the process of activating these networks, which traditional reading instruction does not fully address.

To illustrate how Fast ForWord helps students like this with reading challenges such as dyslexia, let’s explore a study first conducted at Stanford by Nadine Gaab, et. al. (2003) and later replicated at Harvard in 2007. 

This study shows how Fast ForWord worked over the course of several weeks to literally change the brains of students with dyslexia by activating and building cognitive capacity in key areas needed for reading.

Typical reading children

This fMRI image is from a control study conducted at Stanford (later replicated at Harvard) showing where brain activity occurs during reading in a typically developing child.

Reading impaired before FFW

In this image, you can see noticeably weaker activation patterns during reading in the same areas of the brain in a reading impaired child.

Reading impaired after FFW

After 8 weeks of Fast ForWord, you can see that brain activation is now closer to the control study.

Fast ForWord helps students build cognitive capacity and connections in the brain that all successful readers need.