Executive working memory processes in dyslexia: behavioral and fMRI evidence

Harald Beneventi, Finn Egil Tønnessen, Lars Ersland, Kenneth Hugdahl
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 2010 June 1, 51 (3): 192-202
Dyslexia is an impairment in learning to read and write, primarily associated with a phonological core deficit. However, the manifestation of symptoms in dyslexia also includes impaired working memory (WM). The aim of this study was to investigate cortical activation related to verbal WM in dyslexic and normal readers aged around 13 years, controlling for phonological awareness processing. We used a modified WM n-back task where the participants remembered the first or last speech segment (phonemes) of the names of common objects shown as pictures. Dyslexic readers were impaired compared with the control group. Compared with the dyslexic readers, controls showed increased fMRI activation in the left superior parietal lobule and the right inferior prefrontal gyrus. Unlike controls, dyslexics did not show a significant increase in activation in WM areas with increased memory load. These findings provide support for a specific working memory deficit in dyslexic individuals.

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