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Nat Neurosci. 2003 Jul;6(7):767-73.

Development of neural mechanisms for reading.

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Georgetown University Medical Center, 4000 Reservoir Road, Building D Suite 150, Washington, DC 20057, USA.


The complexities of pediatric brain imaging have precluded studies that trace the neural development of cognitive skills acquired during childhood. Using a task that isolates reading-related brain activity and minimizes confounding performance effects, we carried out a cross-sectional functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study using subjects whose ages ranged from 6 to 22 years. We found that learning to read is associated with two patterns of change in brain activity: increased activity in left-hemisphere middle temporal and inferior frontal gyri and decreased activity in right inferotemporal cortical areas. Activity in the left-posterior superior temporal sulcus of the youngest readers was associated with the maturation of their phonological processing abilities. These findings inform current reading models and provide strong support for Orton's 1925 theory of reading development.

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