The History of Fast ForWord

Thirty years ago, the work of four research scientists intersected. They were each able to apply their areas of expertise to the revolutionary product we now know as the Fast ForWord reading intervention program. Our founders were able to combine new research in neuroplasticity with a unique scientific viewpoint that children with language-learning difficulties actually had difficulty distinguishing between speech sounds (auditory processing problems).

We are the Makers of Fast ForWord

The very first study produced great results. The second study, using acoustically modified speech sounds, produced stunning results. These results were published in the journal Science in the summer of 1995, and were presented at a conference in November, which sparked an article in the New York Times. The public response was immediate and overwhelming. It's estimated that 20,000 people tried calling Rutgers University to get more information on the trial. In fact, there were so many calls that it shut down the phone banks. 


Luckily for you, it's now much easier to get access to Fast ForWord for your struggling child to work on at home, with Fast ForWord Providers. The science has been around for 30 years, and Fast ForWord celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2016. It stands the test of time, and continues to be validated and lauded by ongoing research. It truly was ahead of its time.  


To date, the Fast ForWord reading intervention program has helped over 3 million children in 56 countries.  

Meet The Founders

Dr. Michael Merzenich

For nearly five decades,
Dr. Merzenich has been a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research. Considered in the science community as “the father of brain plasticity”, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invented the cochlear implant in the late 1980's. Merzenich has been awarded more than 50 patents and has contributed his software development skills to several therapeutic training programs.

Dr. Paula Tallal

Dr. Tallal is a world-recognized authority on language-learning disabilities, she was a pioneer in discovering the connection between temporal processing and language development. Tallal is a cognitive neuroscientist and board-certified clinical psychologist who has authored over 200 professional publications and holds several patents.    

Dr. Bill Jenkins

Dr. Jenkins is an expert in learning-based brain plasticity, behavioral algorithms, and psychophysical methods, as well as an expert in multimedia and Internet technology. He was recognized by Discovery Magazine in its annual Awards for Technology Innovations and received the Year 2000 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award. He is an author or co-author of more than 100 publications and holds 40 U.S. patents and 12 foreign patents.

Dr. Steven Miller

Dr. Steven Miller is a neuropsychologist with expertise in the assessment and treatment of developmental language and reading impairments, he has extensive experience in organizing clinical studies and conducting longitudinal studies of children and adults with such disabilities. His work has resulted in many publications and awards.

Dr. Paula Tallal Provides Expert Testimony at Congressional Hearing on Dyslexia in 2015



Tallal was one of three expert witnesses invited to address what research and development would be most beneficial for practical applications to overcome dyslexia, which affects as many as one out of six, or 8.5 million, American school children.


"There is an epidemic of reading failure that we have both the scientific evidence and the interventions to treat. What we do not have is a roadmap for implementing these evidence-based tools and technologies on a broad scale, or a mandate for our schools to use these advances to help the millions of struggling readers who desperately need our help,” said Tallal.

Dr. Tallal Champions Congress for Students with Dyslexia

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Oakland, CA 94612-2943




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