Fast ForWord: Training Children's Brains to Learn Language? Recently, a novel approach to treating language-learning impairments called Fast For WordTM (Scientific Learning Corporation, 1998) has received a great deal of attention in the lay press. The developers of Fast For Word (FFW) assert that the program leads to neural reorganization that causes an increased ability to perceive fast ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2000
Fast ForWord: Training Children's Brains to Learn Language?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ronald B. Gillam
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders The University of Texas at Austin
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   April 01, 2000
Fast ForWord: Training Children's Brains to Learn Language?
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, April 2000, Vol. 10, 15-18. doi:10.1044/nnsld10.1.15
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, April 2000, Vol. 10, 15-18. doi:10.1044/nnsld10.1.15
Recently, a novel approach to treating language-learning impairments called Fast For WordTM (Scientific Learning Corporation, 1998) has received a great deal of attention in the lay press. The developers of Fast For Word (FFW) assert that the program leads to neural reorganization that causes an increased ability to perceive fast changing acoustic input (Merzenich et al., 1996; Tallal et al., 1996). The purpose of this paper is to briefly describe the program and to critique the author ‘s claims about the program’s ability to influence neural functions.
Fast ForWord (FFW) is an instruction program consisting of seven computer games that teach auditory discrimination and memory for acoustic and linguistic stimuli. The seven games target discrimination of tones (Circus Sequence), detection of phoneme changes (Old McDonald’s Flying Farm), matching phonemes to a target (Phoneme Identification), identifying matched syllable pairs (Phonic Match), discriminating between minimal pair words (Phonic Words), recalling commands (Block Commander), and sentence comprehension (Language Comprehension Builder). What makes these exercises somewhat unique is that the speech and nonspeech stimuli have been modified by an algorithm that prolongs segments and differentially amplifies particular frequencies. The acoustic modifications are gradually decreased as a child’s performance improves.
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