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J Cogn Neurosci. 2015 Feb;27(2):308-18. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00710.

The association between gray matter volume and reading proficiency: a longitudinal study of beginning readers.

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Center for Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA), Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Neural systems involved in the processing of written language have been identified by a number of functional imaging studies. Structural changes in cortical anatomy that occur in the course of literacy acquisition, however, remain largely unknown. Here, we follow elementary school children over their first 2 years of formal reading instruction and use tensor-based morphometry to relate reading proficiency to cortical volume at baseline and follow-up measurement as well as to intraindividual longitudinal volume development between the two measurement time points. A positive relationship was found between baseline gray matter volume in the left superior temporal gyrus and subsequent changes in reading proficiency. Furthermore, a negative relationship was found between reading proficiency at the second measurement time point and intraindividual cortical volume development in the inferior parietal lobule and the precentral and postcentral gyri of the left hemisphere. These results are interpreted as evidence that reading acquisition is associated with preexisting structural differences as well as with experience-dependent structural changes involving dendritic and synaptic pruning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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