White matter properties differ in 6-year old Readers and Pre-readers.

TitleWhite matter properties differ in 6-year old Readers and Pre-readers.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsTravis, KE, Adams, JN, Kovachy, VN, Ben-Shachar, M, Feldman, HM
JournalBrain Struct Funct
Date Published2016 Sep 15

Reading, an essential life skill in modern society, is typically learned during childhood. Adults who can read show white matter differences compared to adults who never learned to read. Studies have not established whether children who can read show similar white matter differences compared to children who cannot read. We compared 6-year old children who could decode written English words and pseudowords (n = 31; Readers) and 6-year old children who could not decode pseudowords and had a standard score <100 on a task for reading single words (n = 11; Pre-readers). We employed diffusion MRI and tractography to extract fractional anisotropy (FA) along the trajectory of six bilateral intra-hemispheric tracts and two posterior subdivisions of the corpus callosum. Readers demonstrated significantly increased FA within the left anterior segment of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (aSLF-L) and the right uncinate fasciculus (UF-R) compared to Pre-readers. FA in the aSLF-L was significantly correlated with phonological awareness; FA in the UF-R was significantly correlated with language. Correlations in the UF-R but not the aSLF-L remained significant after controlling for reading ability, revealing that UF-R group differences were related to both children's language and reading abilities. Taken together, these findings demonstrate new evidence showing that individual differences in white matter structure relate to whether children have begun to read.

Alternate JournalBrain Struct Funct
PubMed ID27631434
PubMed Central IDPMC5352545
Grant ListR01 HD046500 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD069162 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States

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