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Neuroimage Clin. 2019;22:101715. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101715. Epub 2019 Feb 12.

Disrupted left fusiform response to print in beginning kindergartners is associated with subsequent reading.

Author information

1
McGovern Institute for Brain Research and MIT Integrated Learning Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States; Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129, United States. Electronic address: t.m.centanni@tcu.edu.
2
McGovern Institute for Brain Research and MIT Integrated Learning Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States; Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, United States.
3
McGovern Institute for Brain Research and MIT Integrated Learning Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, United States.
4
Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States; Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, United States.

Abstract

Dyslexia is a common neurobiological disorder in which a child fails to acquire typical word reading skills despite adequate opportunity and intelligence. The visual word form area (VWFA) is a region within the left fusiform gyrus that specializes for print over the course of reading acquisition and is often hypoactivated in individuals with dyslexia. It is currently unknown whether atypicalities in this brain region are already present in kindergarten children who will subsequently develop dyslexia. Here, we measured fMRI activation in response to letters and false fonts in bilateral fusiform gyrus in children with and without risk for dyslexia (defined by family history or low scores on assessments of pre-reading skills, such as phonological awareness). We then followed these children longitudinally through the end of second grade to evaluate whether brain activation patterns in kindergarten were related to second-grade reading outcomes. Compared to typical readers who exhibited no risk factors for reading impairment in kindergarten, there was significant hypoactivation to both letters and false-fonts in the left fusiform gyrus in at-risk children who subsequently developed reading impairment, but not in at-risk children who developed typical reading skills. There were no significant differences in letter- or false-font responses in the right fusiform gyrus among the groups. The finding that hypoactivation to print in the VWFA is present in children who subsequently develop reading impairment even prior to the onset of formal reading instruction suggests that atypical responses to print play an early role in the development of reading impairments such as dyslexia.

KEYWORDS:

Diagnosis; Dyslexia; Reading impairment; Reading outcomes; VWFA

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