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Neuroimage. 2011 Aug 1;57(3):760-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

Neural deficits in second language reading: fMRI evidence from Chinese children with English reading impairment.

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Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


In alphabetic language systems, converging evidence indicates that developmental dyslexia represents a disorder of phonological processing both behaviorally and neurobiologically. However, it is still unknown whether, impaired phonological processing remains the core deficit of impaired English reading in individuals with English as their second language and how it is represented in the neural cortex. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the present study investigated the neural responses to letter rhyming judgment (phonological task) and letter same/different judgment (orthographic task) in Chinese school children with English and Chinese reading impairment compared to typically developing children. Whole brain analyses with multiple comparison correction revealed reduced activation within the left lingual/calcarine gyrus during orthographic processing in children with reading impairment compared to typical readers. An independent region of interest analysis showed reduced activation in occipitotemporal regions during orthographic processing, and reduced activation in parietotemporal regions during phonological processing, consistent with previous studies in English native speakers. These results suggest that similar neural deficits are involved for impaired phonological processing in English as both the first and the second language acquired. These findings pose implications for reading remediation, educational curriculum design, and educational policy for second language learners.

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