The Science Behind The Fast ForWord Software

Most reading and learning difficulties derive from processing delays that are not addressed at school. These difficulties, however, can be helped enormously with targeted mental exercises that strengthen processing and related skill gaps.

This is how Fast ForWord works. It helps the brain re-organise itself, activating new neural pathways, leading to improved focus and reading and learning efficiency.

Students Achieve 1 Year, 3 Months of Reading Gains in Only 68 Days

What’s the impact of Fast ForWord?   Students at Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District achieved an average reading level gain of 1 year and 3 months in 68 days of using the program! Read more here.

Driven by Neuroscience Principles

Brain’s can be trained to re-structure (re-wire) to increase its learning capacity, making learning easier and faster.

For the brain to “re-wire”, certain conditions must be met .These conditions or “ F.A.S.T principles” have been identified as :

  • Frequent and Intense practice with sustained attention
  • Adaptability to a person’s skill level ( from easy to harder )
  • Simultaneous develop of language and cognitive skills
  • Timely rewards and correction of errors ( immediately following each response)

Frequency and intensity

Brain plasticity research demonstrates that the most efficient way to drive brain change is to learn tasks in a frequent, intense time-frame.

Fast ForWord is structured so that participants are challenged again and again – with significantly more learning trials than other products, and many more than could be delivered by a teacher, parent or clinical professional.

The graph below illustrates why Fast ForWord can help children achieve 1 to 2 years reading and learning gains in as little as 3 to 5 months.

Frequency and Intensity of Learning trials compared to other software programs

Tapping Into Neuroplasticity

Norman Doidge, MD on brain plasticty and Fast ForWord

Rewiring How Children Learn
Over the past 35 years, neuroscientists have studied the human brain to determine how it learns and what factors affect learning. Prior to this research it was thought that the brain was hardwired or fixed. But scientists in the 1980s, confirmed with advent of fMRIs in the 1990s, made the ground-breaking discovery of brain plasticity, the capacity of the brain to fundamentally reorganize itself when confronted with new challenges. They also discovered that improved brain function can be stimulated to occur at any age.

At the forefront of this neuroplasticity research were neuroscientists Dr. Michael Merzenich, Dr. Bill Jenkins and Dr. Steve Miller, who collaborated to develop the Fast ForWord software.

The Science of Reading
At the same time as this research was happening, Dr. Paula Tallal — the fourth Fast ForWord co-founder — was developing cognitive theories about the cause of reading difficulty in students.

She discovered a common thread, now accepted science, but at the time ground-breaking, that reading is a language skill, and that difficulties in memory, attention, processing and sequencing, but particularly, processing sounds, breaking words down into phonemes, explained the vast majority of reading difficulties.

Fast ForWord was a collaboration of these two findings:

  • Reading requires efficient processing, and
  • Brain function is plastic — improved processing can be activated
  • It then took years of research and more powerful home computers to develop the right exercises and the right adaptive algorithms, followed by many more years of testing. The end result is Fast ForWord, 50+ exercises, worked on in various customized sequences depending on the student, that first build cognitive skills, and then train reading fluency and comprehension.

The “Slow Pitch” Learning Concept

While Fast ForWord is the product of 35+ years of cognitive, linguistic and neuroscience research, the concept is simple.

The Problem. Reading — decoding and comprehension — requires efficient processing and memory skills.

The Idea. When a child learns to hit a baseball, the instructor pitches slowly at first, then speeds up. Fast ForWord uses this same approach to strengthen cognitive skills — slow and simple to start, adding speed and complexity at the student’s pace.

The Solution. Fast ForWord cognitive software uses sophisticated algorithms and patented language technology that adapts to every click. The rapid-fire exercises strengthen memory, attention, processing and sequencing, leading to more efficient reading and learning.

Why Cognitive Skills Matter

Accurate listening is probably a child’s most important first skill. It dictates how quickly he or she will pick up the language, and then how quickly he or she will learn from their surroundings, their parents, peers and teachers. Then of course, it will determine early reading decoding skills.

If your child is not processing sound fast enough, phonemic awareness is impaired and phonics are hard to grasp. To function properly a brain needs to be able to perform many different cognitive skills (such as processing, sequencing, working memory) at natural language speed. For children with even the slightest auditory processing disorder, including those who may have had 4-6 weeks of ear infections while very young, this is a problem.

Accurate listening is not easy. It is one of the fastest things the brain does. Distinguishing syllables comes down to differentiating sounds in milliseconds. Count off a second. One, one thousand. Four syllables, 2-3 sounds in each, all in one second. This critical skill is beyond many students and becomes a lifetime impediment to success.