Fast ForWord - History


The Fast ForWord products evolved from the work of a number of scientists, including Michael Merzenich and Bill Jenkins at the University of California, San Francisco, and Paula Tallal and Steven Miller at Rutgers University. This team started Scientific Learning shortly after publishing two papers in Science. These papers demonstrated that children who had abnormal temporal processing could be trained on software (which later evolved into Fast ForWord). This training results in 1–2 years of age equivalent improvement in language reception measures. The magnitude of the improvement, subject by subject, was correlated with their improvement in temporal processing. In other words, these studies showed that software like Fast ForWord, when applied to subjects with abnormally poor temporal processing and reading skills, could remediate both their temporal processing and language reception powerfully, and further suggest that temporal processing abnormalities can form a perceptual bottleneck in learning to comprehend language. The studies also included control groups and found significant differences in language reception improvements between control and experimental groups.

Merzenich, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is also the Chief Scientific Officer for Posit Science, is no longer formally involved with the management of the company. He and Bill Jenkins, currently Chief Scientific Officer at Scientific Learning, are internationally known for their research on brain plasticity, which is the concept that the brain changes as we learn new skills. Paula Tallal is currently co-director of the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers and an active participant on many scientific advisory boards and government committees for both developmental language disorders and learning disabilities. She has published over 150 papers on the topic of language and learning and is the recipient of national and international honors. Steven Miller, former Senior Vice President of Research at Scientific Learning, has extensive experience in organizing clinical research studies and conducting longitudinal studies of children who have language and reading problems.

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