What you need to know

At a Glance: Learning and Attention Issues and the Brain

By Peg Rosen

656Found this helpful

Researchers are constantly discovering new things about learning and attention issues. And they don’t have all the answers yet. One thing they do know, however: These issues are associated with differences in specific parts of the brain. Learn more.

656Found this helpful
At a Glance: Learning and Attention Issues and the Brain

Kids with learning and attention issues often have trouble academically and sometimes also outside of school. But that doesn’t mean they can’t learn or that they’re lazy. Research shows that certain areas of their brain don’t always function properly, affecting learning and behavior. Here’s how.

1. The frontal lobe helps with self-control and focus.
This part of the brain deals with behavior, decision-making and emotions. In some kids with self-control and focus issues, it’s wired differently. The pathways that carry information are poorly organized and don’t signal properly. Brain chemicals may not be used effciently. And some areas in this part of the brain may be smaller.

2. The left temporal and parietal lobes help with reading.
Some areas in the back of the brain are crucial to matching sounds with symbols. Others help with committing sight words to memory. In some kids with reading issues, this
area is underactive. There’s also less communication between these areas and other areas of the brain involved in reading.

3. The cerebellum is involved with movement and balance.
This area of the brain helps coordinate movement, including the fine motor skills needed to do things like write and tie shoes. It’s also involved with maintaining balance and posture. Researchers have been looking into possible links between this part of the brain and other brain functions. These include language processing, emotional processing and ADHD. But there are no clear findings, and it’s still a controversial topic among scientists.

4. The parietal lobes are involved with math.
The parietal lobes of the right and left sides of the brain support math and computation. In some kids with math issues, these areas are less active than in other kids. These areas also don’t seem to communicate well with other areas of the brain involved with math.
Graphic of At a Glance: Learning and Attention Issues and The Brain
Graphic of At a Glance: Learning and Attention Issues and The Brain

About the Author

Portrait of Peg Rosen

Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Guinevere Eden

Guinevere Eden, Ph.D., is a professor at Georgetown University and director of its Center for the Study of Learning.

Did you find this helpful?

What’s New on Understood