piracetam efficacy in dyslexic reading and writing disorders

Evaluation of the efficacy of piracetam in treating information processing, reading and writing disorders in dyslexic children.

Tallal P, Chase C, Russell G, Schmitt RL.

Int J Psychophysiol 1986 May;4(1):41-52


Piracetam, a new class of drug thought to enhance specific cognitive skills, was given in a 3300 mg daily dose to half of a group of fifty-five dyslexic boys aged 8-13 years, in a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The other half of the subjects received placebo. All subjects met the following criteria: normal intelligence, normal educational opportunities, no severe emotional problems, no neurological handicaps, good physical health, not taking other psychotropic medication, and scoring at least one and one half years below their mental age equivalent on the Gilmore Oral Reading Test. Non-verbal (auditory and visual) and verbal perceptual, and memory skills were examined, and reading, spelling, language and writing abilities were measured using standardized instruments. Compared to the placebo control group, individuals treated with piracetam did not show statistically significant improvements above their baseline scores on measures of perception, memory, language, reading accuracy or comprehension, or writing accuracy. However, reading speed and numbers of words written in a timed period were significantly enhanced in subjects treated with piracetam as compared to placebo. Effective reading and writing ability, taking both rate and accuracy into consideration, were also significantly improved in the piracetam as compared to the placebo treatment group. The medication was well-tolerated and medical examinations showed no significant adverse reactions. These results encourage further study of piracetam to determine more precisely the mechanism of action by which specific cognitive skills are affected.