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Yearly Archives : 2016


2016 A Year In Review

We have been busy this year! Generosity from people like you has helped us change lives, advance research, and spread the word. Read below to find out more about specific projects and programs we funded in 2016, and learn about what we have in store for 2017.

Research At Cornell University

ISF awarded Cornell University neuroscientist, Dr. Adam Anderson, and his team of researchers at the Cognition and Affect Lab an ISF Research Grant to support their current brain imaging research. Dr. Anderson and his team are using fMRI to show that colors alter the speed with which visual stimuli are processed and perceived. They are examining the brain bases of this finding with the hope of providing objective evidence for a widespread role of color in shaping visual sensory cortical processing and its influences on higher-order brain regions.  By influencing how visual sensory cortices communicate with higher brain regions, color filters may regulate brain activity patterns supporting various forms of high level cognition.

15 Individual Scholarship Awards

ISF awarded aid scholarships to 15 individuals this year. These scholarships provided diagnostic testing and Irlen Spectral Filters for individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford Irlen services. Among our group of 2016 scholarship recipients, we had 5 youth from the juvenile justice system, a former law enforcement officer whose on the job brain injury resulted in migraines, vertigo, and seizures that prevent her from working, and a high school student who missed over 50 days of school this year because of migraines and extreme fatigue caused by light sensitivity.

New Pilot School in Philadelphia

ISF awarded an Irlen Pilot School Program Grant to the Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus in Philadelphia, PA. Mastery Charter services a particularly high percentage of at-risk students in grades 6-12, with over 25% of the student body identified as having some type of specific learning disability. As an Irlen Pilot School, Master Charter will implement screening for Irlen Syndrome and provide colored overlays to students who require intervention. Student progress and improvement will be tracked and analyzed over a 1 year intervention period. Find out more about our pilot school program.

Outreach in Ghana

ISF partnered with the nonprofit, CLED – Campaign for Learning Disabilities, to educate teachers in Ghana about Irlen Syndrome and strategies for supporting students with the condition. CLED-Campaign for Learning Disabilities is a grassroot NGO with the goal of helping children with learning disabilities and co-occurring difficulties to improve their learning  and reach their potential so that they can become valued members of their community. CLED trains parents, teachers, and communities on different subjects related to the needs of children with learning disabilities and co-occurring difficulties. We are excited about this new international partnership, and the opportunity to bring solutions for Irlen Syndrome to school children in Ghana.

Our Plans for 2017

In the coming year, ISF plans to double the number of scholarships awarded in 2016, add another Irlen Pilot School to service and support an entire student body, and increase our support of cutting-edge research that will help make assistance for Irlen Syndrome more available. You can make a difference too. Did you know that a $5 gift to ISF is enough to provide colored overlays for 2 children? Your generosity makes our work possible, and changes the lives of hundreds of children and adults every year. MAKE A DONATION

Updates on Irlen Research at Cornell University

From the Desk of Professor Adam Anderson, Director of the Affect and Cognition Lab
October 13, 2016


“Color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to
influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language, and emotion.”


Study #1: How Color Affects Brain Activity
We have just finished our first study on color and brain activity. In our efforts to understand the role of color on brain function, we examined how different colors influence brain activity patterns. Well beyond color perception, we found colors have distinct roles not only in altering visual system activity, including the primary visual cortex and the thalamus, but also higher level regions including the parahippocampal gyrus (involved in representing the environment) and the middle temporal gyrus (involved in language processing and motion perception).  We also found colors influence limbic regions involved in emotions and feelings, including the anterior insula (emotional body states) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA, a region that produces Dopamine, a neurochemical that influences reward processing and cognition throughout the cortex).  In sum, color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language and emotion. Although preliminary, such results provide foundational support for color filters as means to alter brain activity patterns in focal brain regions, and the functions these regions support. These results lay the foundational neuroscience groundwork for future studies looking specifically at Irlen Spectral Filters.


Study #2: How Color Influences Perception, Cognition, and Emotion: Irlen as a Brain-Based Condition
In our current study, we are building upon our earlier findings and undertaking more focused examinations of the influence of color on how information from the eye is represented in the brain, and the transmission of that information to the higher order portions of the brain that support perception, cognition (e.g., language and thought), and emotion. This study also assesses how colors influence brain activity to alter performance on tasks, including perceptual, cognitive and affective judgments. Results from this research will shed light on the neural mechanisms by which color can modulate brain activity and alter brain function.  This study also examines the presence of Irlen Syndrome symptoms in the population at large, their neural bases, and whether these patterns of neural dysregulation are altered by color.  These findings should help establish how, rather than a retinal visual disorder, Irlen Syndrome arises from dysregulated brain networks, with different brain regions supporting specific symptoms.

Help us support research that helps us better understand Irlen Syndrome, visit www.irlensyndrome.org and pledge your support today. The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is a 501(3)(c) charity organization. Donations are tax deductible. Our federal tax ID is 33-0409023.

The ISF Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship

The Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship

In Memory of Dr. Pat Johnson, Irlen Diagnostician

Pat Johnson


A key mission of the Irlen Syndrome Foundation is to increase accessibility of Irlen services. Dr. Patricia Johnson believed in this mission passionately, and in over two decades with the Irlen organization, she trained thousands of professionals in the Irlen Method across Texas and surrounding southern states. The Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship, offered by the Irlen Syndrome Foundation, honors Dr. Pat Johnson’s tireless efforts to bring Irlen Syndrome and the Irlen Method to children and adults suffering from Irlen Syndrome. In the spirit of Dr. Johnson’s tenacity, intellectual prowess, and overwhelming desire to change lives for the better, the Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship will continue her legacy by making Irlen services available to those in need.

Dr. Johnson was with the Irlen organization for 22 years. She was an instrumental force in growing one of the strongest networks of Irlen Practitioners in the world, training Irlen Screeners across the entire great state of Texas, as well as Mississippi, and Louisiana. She was the driving force behind the Texas Irlen Association, and fought hard to get school children access to Irlen services through school district trainings and proposed state legislation. The Irlen Syndrome Foundation aims to keep Dr. Johnson’s mission and spirit alive through the Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship, which will give individuals in Texas and the surrounding southern states access to Irlen testing and spectral filters.

In 2015 two Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarships were awarded. Please help us keep Pat’s memory and altruistic mission alive. To make a donation to the Irlen Syndrome Foundation’s Pat Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund, please click the link below or email donate@irlensyndrome.org to talk to someone directly about your contribution.

Donate Online: https://npo.justgive.org/nonprofits/donate.jsp?ein=33-0409023

The Irlen Syndrome Foundation is a 501(3)(c) charity organization. Donations are tax deductible. We are also able to accept donations from “Donor Advised Funds” and Charitable Remainder Trusts. Our federal tax ID is 33-0409023. Our mailing address is 5380 E. Village Rd., Long Beach, CA 90808.

To learn more about the Irlen Syndrome Foundation, please visit: www.irlensyndrome.org

Giving Smarter: Use Required IRA Distributions and Donor-Advised Funds to Give More

Take advantage of alternative funding sources to make your annual charitable gifts. Today, it’s easier than ever to make gifts from your IRA distributions or donor-advised funds, and in doing so, maximize your tax benefits while at the same time support a cause you care about.

Using IRA Distributions

New legislation offers an exciting tax break for retirees. Here’s how it works:
Retirees age 70 1/2 and older can donate up to $100,000 tax free from their IRA each year. This can be a huge benefit for retirees who are required to take an annual distribution from their IRA because IRA distributions are generally treated as taxable income. Under the new legislation, made permanent in the 2015 federal spending and tax package, those assets are excluded from income if the distribution is made directly to charity. The distribution is not included in your income so you avoid the potential negative consequences that regular IRA withdrawals in retirement can create, including taxes on Social Security benefits. In addition, instead of being limited to a lower percentage, as charitable contribution deductions normally are, distributions that are excluded from income are equivalent to a 100% deduction.

Once you turn 70 1/2, the IRS required you to take a minimum distribution from your IRA each year, regardless of whether or not you actually need that income, and these required withdrawals are subject to ordinary income taxes. By making a charitable contribution from your IRA, you can satisfy your required minimum distribution amount without reporting additional income. Make sure you speak with your tax and or financial adviser before making tax or investment decisions to see if donating IRA distributions is right for you.

Donor-Advised Funds

Many financial institutions offer ways for their clients to participate in charitable giving, and one of these ways is through donor-advised funds. These offer donors the convenience of making a single tax-deductible donation, then distributing those funds to the charities of their choice. It allow donors the ease of contributing things other than cash, such as real estate, appreciated securities and non-publicly traded assets. And, it offers donors the ability to grow their donations tax-free and distribute their funds to charities over time. All of this allows for the potential of a higher charitable impact. Ask your financial institution about their available donor-advised funds for more information, and as always, be sure to speak with your tax and or financial adviser before making tax or investment decisions.