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New diagnostic technique BEAMed at dyslexia

Virginia Snodgrass Cowart
JAMA. 1982;247(15):2072-2077. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320400004002.
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A sophisticated system of mapping brain electrical activity apparently is highly discriminating in identifying dyslexia and may have other diagnostic applications in the field of learning disabilities.

The noninvasive brain electrical activity mapping (BEAM) program takes data from spectral analysis of EEGs and evoked potentials (EPs) and displays them topographically on a color television screen. It then employs a technique called significance probability mapping (SPM) to demonstrate and compare normal and abnormal responses to stimuli.

The project was described at the meeting of the Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities in Chicago by Frank H. Duffy, MD, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of developmental neurophysiology at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Duffy entered medicine with a degree in electrical engineering and applied mathematics and thus has the background to feel comfortable with the high-technology aspects of the system.

"We've been doing mapping for about


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