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Brain Connect. 2014 Aug;4(6):428-39. doi: 10.1089/brain.2013.0203.

Thalamo-cortical connectivity: what can diffusion tractography tell us about reading difficulties in children?

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1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University , Nashville, Tennessee.


Reading is an essential skill in modern society, but many people have deficits in the decoding and word recognition aspects of reading, a difficulty often referred to as dyslexia. The primary focus of neuroimaging studies to date in dyslexia has been on cortical regions; however, subcortical regions may also be important for explaining this disability. Here, we used diffusion tensor imaging to examine the association between thalamo-cortical connectivity and children's reading ability in 20 children with typically developed reading ability (age range 8-17/10-17 years old from two imaging centers) and 19 children with developmental dyslexia (DYS) (age range 9-17/9-16 years old). To measure thalamo-cortical connections, the structural images were segmented into cortical and subcortical anatomical regions that were used as target and seed regions in the probabilistic tractography analysis. Abnormal thalamic connectivity was found in the dyslexic group in the sensorimotor and lateral prefrontal cortices. These results suggest that the thalamus may play a key role in reading behavior by mediating the functions of task-specific cortical regions; such findings lay the foundation for future studies to investigate further neurobiological anomalies in the development of thalamo-cortical connectivity in DYS.


DTI; MRI; brain connectivity; children; reading ability; thalamus

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