Disruption of posterior brain systems for reading in children with developmental dyslexia

Bennett A Shaywitz, Sally E Shaywitz, Kenneth R Pugh, W Einar Mencl, Robert K Fulbright, Pawel Skudlarski, R Todd Constable, Karen E Marchione, Jack M Fletcher, G Reid Lyon, John C Gore
Biological Psychiatry 2002 July 15, 52 (2): 101-10

BACKGROUND: Converging evidence indicates a functional disruption in the neural systems for reading in adults with dyslexia. We examined brain activation patterns in dyslexic and nonimpaired children during pseudoword and real-word reading tasks that required phonologic analysis (i.e., tapped the problems experienced by dyslexic children in sounding out words).

METHODS: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study 144 right-handed children, 70 dyslexic readers, and 74 nonimpaired readers as they read pseudowords and real words.

RESULTS: Children with dyslexia demonstrated a disruption in neural systems for reading involving posterior brain regions, including parietotemporal sites and sites in the occipitotemporal area. Reading skill was positively correlated with the magnitude of activation in the left occipitotemporal region. Activation in the left and right inferior frontal gyri was greater in older compared with younger dyslexic children.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide neurobiological evidence of an underlying disruption in the neural systems for reading in children with dyslexia and indicate that it is evident at a young age. The locus of the disruption places childhood dyslexia within the same neurobiological framework as dyslexia, and acquired alexia, occurring in adults.

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