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Ann Dyslexia. 2009 Jun;59(1):78-97. doi: 10.1007/s11881-009-0024-y. Epub 2009 Mar 21.

Phonological awareness predicts activation patterns for print and speech.

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Haskins Laboratories, 300 George Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Using fMRI, we explored the relationship between phonological awareness (PA), a measure of metaphonological knowledge of the segmental structure of speech, and brain activation patterns during processing of print and speech in young readers from 6 to 10 years of age. Behavioral measures of PA were positively correlated with activation levels for print relative to speech tokens in superior temporal and occipito-temporal regions. Differences between print-elicited activation levels in superior temporal and inferior frontal sites were also correlated with PA measures with the direction of the correlation depending on stimulus type: positive for pronounceable pseudowords and negative for consonant strings. These results support and extend the many indications in the behavioral and neurocognitive literature that PA is a major component of skill in beginning readers and point to a developmental trajectory by which written language engages areas originally shaped by speech for learners on the path toward successful literacy acquisition.

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