2024 – E-learning Series: A Neural Basis for Reading Impairment (3 part e-learning series)


E-learning online (including recordings and multiple choice questionnaires that you complete in your own time)

Registration options: R2250 for all 3 (Combination registration)

R850 per separate seminar

Course Description

 Advanced imaging techniques have for the first time enabled direct examination of theoretical models underpinning reading impairment (formerly known as Dyslexia). This seminar series will discuss the three dominant theories, the early research upon which they were based, and how neuroscience is proving or discounting these assumptions. The implications for clinical practise in terms of assessment and structuring interventions are considered. This course is not a toolkit in how to treat impaired reading, but provides the foundational thinking psychologists and educators need to understand the neuroscience underpinning the reading brain, essential to enable appropriate treatment planning.

Course Structure

There are three seminars . Each consists of a recording to watch online in your own time (2.5 – 3 hours). This is followed with multiple-choice questions for each of the seminars.

One online zoom recording (completed at your own time) with 20 multiple-choice questions = 3 points (9 points in total).


The overall scope of this series is to broaden current practitioners’ knowledge about the brain mechanisms associated with reading development and impairment. It is not focused on intervention.

Specific learning outcomes:

  1. To understand the brain mechanisms underpinning the phonological, visual and subcortical models of RI.
  2. To understand how these theories developed over time and contributed to the conceptualisation of RI to date.
  3. To be aware of the new fMRI research in this area.
  4. To consider clinical practise based on this new knowledge.
  5. To enable more informed decision-making around structuring RI interventions.


Seminar 1: The phonological model of reading impairment

HPCSA Accreditation Number:  PSB002/040/01/2024 for 3 clinical ceu’s in Level 1 for attendance

This seminar traces the historical roots from Noam Chomsky’s theory of language development to the early fMRI research by Sally Shaywitz identifying the reading network and the conceptualisation of dyslexia as a disconnection between dorsal and ventral brain systems. Most interventions have been modelled around this theory although the latest neuroscience suggest that the reading network may be far more intricate than previously anticipated. Implications for intervention are considered, but discussion of specific programmes falls outside the scope of this seminar.

Seminar 2:  A visual basis for RI: the magnocellular deficit hypothesis.

HPCSA Accreditation Number: PSB002/041/01/2024 for 3 clinical ceu’s in Level 1 for attendance.

This seminar posits a visual basis for dyslexia based on the research by Prof John Stein. The fascinating early experiments associated with photosensitivity, contrast and movement processing and its impact on reading development are described in terms of the magnocellular deficit hypothesis. The latest neuroscience largely supported these findings and the implications for assessment and intervention are provided. Treatment for magnocellular deficits falls outside the remit of Psychology but can inform clinical practise.

Seminar 3:  The subcortical model of RI: from cerebellum to striatum

HPCSA Accreditation Number: PSB002/042/01/2024 for 3 clinical ceu’s in Level 1 for attendance.

Early research posited that mild cerebellar signs during development may underpin poor reading in that automaticity is not established. However, in dyslexic children, but not adults striatum activation may compensate for these early reading deficits. This seminar explores the latest fMRI studies on reading development in children, mechanisms of compensation on a neural level, the role of sex hormones (oestrogen and testosterone) in learning at different developmental stages and how this may inform clinical practise.


Joalida Smit

Neuropsychologist, Clinical Psychologist and Fine Artist

Clinical Psychologist MA Clin Psych (Stell)

Clinical Neuropsychologist MSc Neuropsychology (London, UK)

Diploma in Paediatric Psychology and Neuropsychology (Oxford)

About Joalida Smit

Joalida Smit trained as a Clinical Psychologist in South Africa (MA Clin Psych) and a Paediatric Neuropsychologist in London (MSc Paeds Neuropsychology). She worked in the NHS for 15 years, first in acute Paediatric Oncology and then later setting up and managing a lifespan survivorship service for children treated for brain tumours and/or CNS diseases. She returned to South Africa in 2016 where she focused on medico-legal assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders. She recently moved to the United States, where she now lives with her family, a dog named Squiggles, and two turtles named Christopher and Godjira. The basis of these seminars originally formed part of the rehabilitation programme she developed within the NHS to support survivors’ reintegration into the educational or employment system.

Joalida is currently working as a full time artist and developing opportunities to bring together her interests in art, psychology and neuroscience.


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