During the 1990s, Michael Merzenich and Paula Tallal worked together to create a computerized language intervention program called Fast ForWord-LanguageTM (FFW-L, Scientific Learning Corporation, 1998). The design of the FFW-L program was based on scientific discoveries about auditory processing disorders (e.g., Tallal & Piercy, 1974) and training protocols that had resulted in neural changes in nonhuman primates (e.g., Jenkins, Merzenich, Ochs, Allard, & Guic-Robles, 1990; Recanzone, Merzenich, & Jenkins, 1992).
Merzenich and colleagues (2002) have suggested that these strategies should be used in intervention with humans because they have been proven to drive brain remodeling in animals, and neuroplasticity-based training principles are being applied in many areas of speech and language rehabilitation (e.g., Ludlow et al., 2009). The neuroplasticity-based training principles underlying FFW-L (Byl, Merzenich, & Jenkins, 1996; Fitch & Tallal, 2003) are summarized in Table 1 [PDF]. Whether or not the neuroplasticity-based training principles of FFW-L are necessary components of language intervention can now be assessed in light of new evidence from a randomized controlled trial.