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Neuroimage. 2011 Aug 1;57(3):704-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.057. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Emergence of the neural network for reading in five-year-old beginning readers of different levels of pre-literacy abilities: an fMRI study.

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Brain Development Laboratory, Department of Psychology, 1227 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403, USA.


The present study traced the emergence of the neural circuits for reading in five-year-old children of diverse pre-literacy ability. In the fall and winter of kindergarten, children performed a one-back task with letter versus false font stimuli during fMRI scanning. At the start of kindergarten, children with on-track pre-literacy skills (OT) recruited bilateral temporo-parietal regions for the letter > false font comparison. In contrast, children at-risk for reading difficulty (AR) showed no differential activation in this region. Following 3 months of kindergarten and, for AR children, supplemental reading instruction, OT children showed left-lateralized activation in the temporo-parietal region, whereas AR children showed bilateral activation and recruitment of frontal regions including the anterior cingulate cortex. These data suggest that typical reading development is associated with initial recruitment and subsequent disengagement of right hemisphere homologous regions while atypical reading development may be associated with compensatory recruitment of frontal regions.

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