This mini-review summarizes and integrates findings from recent meta-analyses and original neuroimaging studies on functional brain abnormalities in dyslexic readers. Surprisingly, there is little empirical support for the standard neuroanatomical model of developmental dyslexia, which localizes the primary phonological decoding deficit in left temporo-parietal (TP) regions. Rather, recent evidence points to a dysfunction of a left hemisphere reading network, which includes occipito-temporal (OT), inferior frontal, and inferior parietal regions.
brain; developmental dyslexia; fMRI; meta-analysis; neuroimaging; reading
The neural correlates of developmental dyslexia have been investigated intensively over the last two decades and reliable evidence for a dysfunction of left-hemispheric reading systems in dyslexic readers has been found in functional neuroimaging studies. In addition, structural imaging studies using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) demonstrated grey matter reductions in dyslexics in several brain regions. To objectively assess the consistency of these findings, we performed activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis on nine published VBM studies reporting 62 foci of grey matter reduction in dyslexic readers. We found six significant clusters of convergence in bilateral temporo-parietal and left occipito-temporal cortical regions and in the cerebellum bilaterally. To identify possible overlaps between structural and functional deviations in dyslexic readers, we conducted additional ALE meta-analyses of imaging studies reporting functional underactivations (125 foci from 24 studies) or overactivations (95 foci from 11 studies ) in dyslexics. Subsequent conjunction analyses revealed overlaps between the results of the VBM meta-analysis and the meta-analysis of functional underactivations in the fusiform and supramarginal gyri of the left hemisphere. An overlap between VBM results and the meta-analysis of functional overactivations was found in the left cerebellum. The results of our study provide evidence for consistent grey matter variations bilaterally in the dyslexic brain and substantial overlap of these structural variations with functional abnormalities in left hemispheric regions.
The involvement of the left hemisphere occipito-temporal (OT) junction in reading has been established, yet there is current controversy over the region’s specificity for reading and the nature of its role in the reading process. Recent neuroimaging findings suggest that the region is sensitive to orthographic familiarity (Kronbichler et al., 2007), and the present study tested that hypothesis. Using fMRI, the OT region and other regions in the reading network were localized in 28 adult, right-handed participants. The BOLD signal in these regions was measured during a phonological judgment task (i.e., “Does it sound like a word?”). Stimuli included words, pseudohomophones (phonologically familiar yet orthographically unfamiliar), and pseudowords (phonologically and orthographically unfamiliar) that were matched on lexical properties including sublexical orthography. Relative to baseline, BOLD signal in the OT region was greater for pseudohomophones than for words, suggesting that the region is sensitive to orthographic familiarity at the whole-word level. Further contrasts of orthographic frequency within the word condition revealed increased BOLD signal for low- than high-frequency words. Specialization in the OT area for recognition of frequent letter strings may support the development of reading expertise. Additionally, BOLD signal in the OT region correlates positively with reading efficiency, supporting the idea that this region is a skill zone for reading printed words. BOLD signal in the IFG and STG correlate negatively with reading efficiency, indicating that processing effort in these classic phonological regions is inversely related to reading efficiency.
This fMRI study contrasted case-deviant and letter-deviant forms with familiar forms of the same phonological words (e.g., TaXi and Taksi vs. Taxi) and found, that both types of deviance led to increased activation in a left occipitotemporal region corresponding to the Visual Word Form Area. Case-deviant items, in addition, led to increased activation in a right occipitotemporal region and in a left occipital and a left posterior occipitotemporal region, possibly reflecting the increased demands on letter form coding. For letter-deviant items, in addition to the increased left occipitotemporal activation, a main finding was increased activation primarily in extended left frontal regions, possibly reflecting sublexically mediated access to word phonology. These findings are consistent with general features of cognitive dual-route models of visual word processing. Furthermore, they add support to the main feature of Dehaene et al.’s (2005) neural model of early stages of visual word processing . However, the increased activation found for case-deviant items in the VWFA cannot be immediately reconciled with the assumption of completely abstract case-independent orthographic word codes in the VWFA.
Functional MRI; visual word recognition; occipitotemporal cortex; visual word form area; orthographic processing
Cognitive models of reading predict that high frequency regular words can be read in more than one way. We investigated this hypothesis using functional MRI and covariance analysis in 43 healthy skilled readers. Our results dissociated two sets of regions that were differentially engaged across subjects who were reading the same familiar words. Some subjects showed more activation in left inferior frontal and anterior occipito-temporal regions while other subjects showed more activation in right inferior parietal and left posterior occipito-temporal regions. To explore the behavioural correlates of these systems, we measured the difference between reading speed for irregularly spelled words relative to pseudowords outside the scanner in fifteen of our subjects and correlated this measure with fMRI activation for reading familiar words. The faster the lexical reading the greater the activation in left posterior occipito-temporal and right inferior parietal regions. Conversely, the slower the lexical reading the greater the activation in left anterior occipito-temporal and left ventral inferior frontal regions. Thus, the double dissociation in irregular and pseudoword reading behaviour predicted the double dissociation in neuronal activation for reading familiar words. We discuss the implications of these results which may be important for understanding how reading is learnt in childhood or re-learnt following brain damage in adulthood.
Functional MRI; Regional covariance; Inter-subject variability; Overt reading; Language; Connectivity; Network; Occipito-temporal sulcus
The aim of this study was to investigate brain responses triggered by different wordclasses in dyslexic and control children. The majority of dyslexic children have difficulties to phonologically assemble a word from sublexical parts following grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences. Therefore, we hypothesised that dyslexic children should mainly differ from controls processing low frequent words that are unfamiliar to the reader.
We presented different wordclasses (high and low frequent words, pseudowords) in a rapid serial visual word (RSVP) design and performed wavelet analysis on the evoked activity.
Dyslexic children had lower evoked power amplitudes and a higher spectral frequency for low frequent words compared to control children. No group differences were found for high frequent words and pseudowords. Control children had higher evoked power amplitudes and a lower spectral frequency for low frequent words compared to high frequent words and pseudowords. This pattern was not present in the dyslexic group.
Dyslexic children differed from control children only in their brain responses to low frequent words while showing no modulated brain activity in response to the three word types. This might support the hypothesis that dyslexic children are selectively impaired reading words that require sublexical processing. However, the lacking differences between word types raise the question if dyslexic children were able to process the words presented in rapid serial fashion in an adequate way. Therefore the present results should only be interpreted as evidence for a specific sublexical processing deficit with caution.
A fundamental issue in cognitive neuroscience is the existence of two major, sub-lexical and lexical, reading processes and their possible segregation in the left posterior perisylvian cortex. Using cortical electrostimulation mapping, we identified the cortical areas involved on reading either orthographically irregular words (lexical, “direct” process) or pronounceable pseudowords (sublexical, “indirect” process) in 14 right-handed neurosurgical patients while video-recording behavioral effects. Intraoperative neuronavigation system and Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) stereotactic coordinates were used to identify the localization of stimulation sites. Fifty-one reading interference areas were found that affected either words (14 areas), or pseudo-words (11 areas), or both (26 areas). Forty-one (80%) corresponded to the impairment of the phonological level of reading processes. Reading processes involved discrete, highly localized perisylvian cortical areas with individual variability. MNI coordinates throughout the group exhibited a clear segregation according to the tested reading route; specific pseudo-word reading interferences were concentrated in a restricted inferior and anterior subpart of the left supramarginal gyrus (barycentre x = −68.1; y = −25.9; z = 30.2; Brodmann’s area 40) while specific word reading areas were located almost exclusively alongside the left superior temporal gyrus. Although half of the reading interferences found were nonspecific, the finding of specific lexical or sublexical interferences is new evidence that lexical and sublexical processes of reading could be partially supported by distinct cortical sub-regions despite their anatomical proximity. These data are in line with many brain activation studies that showed that left superior temporal and inferior parietal regions had a crucial role respectively in word and pseudoword reading and were core regions for dyslexia.
Based on our previous work, we expected the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) in the left ventral visual pathway to be engaged by both whole-word recognition and by serial sublexical coding of letter strings. To examine this double function, a phonological lexical decision task (i.e., “Does xxx sound like an existing word?”) presented short and long letter strings of words, pseudohomophones, and pseudowords (e.g., Taxi, Taksi and Tazi). Main findings were that the length effect for words was limited to occipital regions and absent in the VWFA. In contrast, a marked length effect for pseudowords was found throughout the ventral visual pathway including the VWFA, as well as in regions presumably engaged by visual attention and silent-articulatory processes. The length by lexicality interaction on brain activation corresponds to well-established behavioral findings of a length by lexicality interaction on naming latencies and speaks for the engagement of the VWFA by both lexical and sublexical processes.
In the present study, we investigated brain morphological signatures of dyslexia by using a voxel-based asymmetry analysis. Dyslexia is a developmental disorder that affects the acquisition of reading and spelling abilities and is associated with a phonological deficit. Speech perception disabilities have been associated with this deficit, particularly when listening conditions are challenging, such as in noisy environments. These deficits are associated with known neurophysiological correlates, such as a reduction in the functional activation or a modification of functional asymmetry in the cortical regions involved in speech processing, such as the bilateral superior temporal areas. These functional deficits have been associated with macroscopic morphological abnormalities, which potentially include a reduction in gray and white matter volumes, combined with modifications of the leftward asymmetry along the perisylvian areas. The purpose of this study was to investigate gray/white matter distribution asymmetries in dyslexic adults using automated image processing derived from the voxel-based morphometry technique. Correlations with speech-in-noise perception abilities were also investigated. The results confirmed the presence of gray matter distribution abnormalities in the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and the superior temporal Sulcus (STS) in individuals with dyslexia. Specifically, the gray matter of adults with dyslexia was symmetrically distributed over one particular region of the STS, the temporal voice area, whereas normal readers showed a clear rightward gray matter asymmetry in this area. We also identified a region in the left posterior STG in which the white matter distribution asymmetry was correlated to speech-in-noise comprehension abilities in dyslexic adults. These results provide further information concerning the morphological alterations observed in dyslexia, revealing the presence of both gray and white matter distribution anomalies and the potential involvement of these defects in speech-in-noise deficits.
The background noise of response times is often overlooked in scientific inquiries of cognitive performances. However, it is becoming widely acknowledged in psychology, medicine, physiology, physics, and beyond that temporal patterns of variability constitute a rich source of information. Here, we introduce two complexity measures (1/f scaling and recurrence quantification analysis) that employ background noise as metrics of reading fluency. These measures gauge the extent of interdependence across, rather than within, cognitive components. In this study, we investigated dyslexic and non-dyslexic word-naming performance in beginning readers and observed that these complexity metrics differentiate reliably between dyslexic and average response times and correlate strongly with the severity of the reading impairment. The direction of change in the introduced metrics suggests that developmental dyslexia resides from dynamical instabilities in the coordination among the many components necessary to read, which could explain why dyslexic readers score below average on so many distinct tasks and modalities.
Developmental dyslexia; Reading fluency; Recurrence quantification analysis; Self-organization; 1/f noise
The left ventral occipito-temporal cortex (LvOT) is thought to be essential for the rapid parallel letter processing that is required for skilled reading. Here we investigate whether rapid written word identification in skilled readers can be supported by neural pathways that do not involve LvOT. Hypotheses were derived from a stroke patient who acquired dyslexia following extensive LvOT damage. The patient followed a reading trajectory typical of that associated with pure alexia, re-gaining the ability to read aloud many words with declining performance as the length of words increased. Using functional MRI and dynamic causal modelling (DCM), we found that, when short (three to five letter) familiar words were read successfully, visual inputs to the patient’s occipital cortex were connected to left motor and premotor regions via activity in a central part of the left superior temporal sulcus (STS). The patient analysis therefore implied a left hemisphere “reading-without-LvOT” pathway that involved STS. We then investigated whether the same reading-without-LvOT pathway could be identified in 29 skilled readers and whether there was inter-subject variability in the degree to which skilled reading engaged LvOT. We found that functional connectivity in the reading-without-LvOT pathway was strongest in individuals who had the weakest functional connectivity in the LvOT pathway. This observation validates the findings of our patient’s case study. Our findings highlight the contribution of a left hemisphere reading pathway that is activated during the rapid identification of short familiar written words, particularly when LvOT is not involved. Preservation and use of this pathway may explain how patients are still able to read short words accurately when LvOT has been damaged.
► Word reading can succeed after damage to the left occipito-temporal cortex. ► This is enabled by an alternative pathway via the left superior temporal sulcus. ► Connectivity analysis demonstrated the existence of this pathway in normal readers. ► We hypothesise that this pathway integrates semantics with phonology. ► Our work stresses the importance of mapping alternative degenerate reading pathways.
Effective connectivity; Alexia; Recovery; Degeneracy; Word reading pathways; Functional MRI
The main diagnostic criterion for developmental dyslexia (DD) in transparent orthographies is a remarkable reading speed deficit, which is often accompanied by spelling difficulties. These deficits have been traced back to both deficits in orthographic and phonological processing. For a better understanding of the reading speed deficit in DD it is necessary to clarify which processing steps are degraded in children with DD during reading. In order to address this question the present study used EEG to investigate three reading related ERPs: the N170, N400 and LPC. Twenty-nine children without DD and 52 children with DD performed a phonological lexical decision (PLD)—task, which tapped both orthographic and phonological processing. Children were presented with words, pseudohomophones, pseudowords and false fonts and had to decide whether the presented stimulus sounded like an existing German word or not. Compared to control children, children with DD showed deficits in all the investigated ERPs. Firstly, a diminished mean area under the curve for the word material-false font contrasts in the time window of the N170 was observed, indicating a reduced degree of print sensitivity; secondly, N400 amplitudes, as suggested to reflect the access to the orthographic lexicon and grapheme-phoneme conversion, were attenuated; and lastly, phonological access as indexed by the LPC was degraded in children with DD. Processing differences dependent on the linguistic material in children without DD were observed only in the LPC, suggesting that similar reading processes were adopted independent of orthographic familiarity. The results of this study suggest that effective treatment should include both orthographic and phonological training. Furthermore, more longitudinal studies utilizing the same task and stimuli are needed to clarify how these processing steps and their time course change during reading development.
developmental dyslexia; phonological lexical decisions; orthography; phonology; dual route model of reading; N170; N400; LPC
Developmental dyslexia affects almost 10% of school-aged children and represents a significant public health problem. Its etiology is unknown. The consistent presence of phonological difficulties combined with an inability to manipulate language sounds and the grapheme–phoneme conversion is widely acknowledged. Numerous scientific studies have also documented the presence of eye movement anomalies and deficits of perception of low contrast, low spatial frequency, and high frequency temporal visual information in dyslexics. Anomalies of visual attention with short visual attention spans have also been demonstrated in a large number of cases. Spatial orientation is also affected in dyslexics who manifest a preference for spatial attention to the right. This asymmetry may be so pronounced that it leads to a veritable neglect of space on the left side. The evaluation of treatments proposed to dyslexics whether speech or oriented towards the visual anomalies remains fragmentary. The advent of new explanatory theories, notably cerebellar, magnocellular, or proprioceptive, is an incentive for ophthalmologists to enter the world of multimodal cognition given the importance of the eye’s visual input.
reading; ocular motility; dyslexia; neglect; spatial representation
Damage to left perisylvian cortex often results in impaired phonological processing abilities with written language profiles consistent with phonological alexia and phonological agraphia. The purpose of this article was to examine a behavioral treatment sequence for such individuals intended to strengthen phonological processing and links between phonology and orthography, as well as train a means to maximize use of residual orthographic and phonological knowledge for spelling.
Two women with persistent impairments of written language and phonological processing following damage to left perisylvian cortical regions participated in this study. Both exhibited characteristic features of phonological alexia and agraphia in that reading and spelling performance for real words was better preserved than nonwords (lexicality effect). A 2-stage treatment protocol was administered to strengthen sublexical skills (phonological treatment) and to train interactive use of lexical and sublexical information to maximize spelling performance (interactive treatment).
Both participants improved phonological processing abilities and reading/spelling via the sublexical route. They also improved spelling of real words and were able to detect and correct most residual errors using an electronic spelling aid. Conclusions: Behavioral treatment served to strengthen phonological skills supporting reading and spelling, and provided a functional compensatory strategy to overcome residual weaknesses.
aphasia; dyslexia; dysgraphia; rehabilitation; stroke
This study assessed eye movement abnormalities of adolescent dyslexic readers and interpreted the findings by linking the dual-route model of single word reading with the E-Z Reader model of eye movement control during silent sentence reading. A dysfunction of the lexical route was assumed to account for a reduced number of words which received only a single fixation or which were skipped and for the increased number of words with multiple fixations and a marked effect of word length on gaze duration. This pattern was interpreted as a frequent failure of orthographic whole-word recognition (based on orthographic lexicon entries) and on reliance on serial sublexical processing instead. Inefficiency of the lexical route was inferred from prolonged gaze durations for singly fixated words. These findings were related to the E-Z Reader model of eye movement control. Slow activation of word phonology accounted for the low skipping rate of dyslexic readers. Frequent reliance on sublexical decoding was inferred from a tendency to fixate word beginnings and from short forward saccades. Overall, the linkage of the dual-route model of single word reading and a model of eye movement control led to a useful framework for understanding eye movement abnormalities of dyslexic readers.
Developmental dyslexia; Dual-route model of reading; Eye movement control; E-Z Reader; Lexical route; Sublexical route
This study investigated links between working memory and speech processing systems. We used delayed pseudoword repetition in fMRI to investigate the neural correlates of sublexical structure in phonological working memory (pWM). We orthogonally varied the number of syllables and consonant clusters in auditory pseudowords and measured the neural responses to these manipulations under conditions of covert rehearsal (Experiment 1). A left-dominant network of temporal and motor cortex showed increased activity for longer items, with motor cortex only showing greater activity concomitant with adding consonant clusters. An individual-differences analysis revealed a significant positive relationship between activity in the angular gyrus and the hippocampus, and accuracy on pseudoword repetition. As models of pWM stipulate that its neural correlates should be activated during both perception and production/rehearsal [Buchsbaum, B. R., & D’Esposito, M. The search for the phonological store: From loop to convolution. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 762–778, 2008; Jacquemot, C., & Scott, S. K. What is the relationship between phonological short-term memory and speech processing? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 480–486, 2006; Baddeley, A. D., & Hitch, G. Working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 8, pp. 47–89). New York: Academic Press, 1974], we further assessed the effects of the two factors in a separate passive listening experiment (Experiment 2). In this experiment, the effect of the number of syllables was concentrated in posterior–medial regions of the supratemporal plane bilaterally, although there was no evidence of a significant response to added clusters. Taken together, the results identify the planum temporale as a key region in pWM; within this region, representations are likely to take the form of auditory or audiomotor “templates” or “chunks” at the level of the syllable [Papoutsi, M., de Zwart, J. A., Jansma, J. M., Pickering, M. J., Bednar, J. A., & Horwitz, B. From phonemes to articulatory codes: an fMRI study of the role of Broca’s area in speech production. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 2156–2165, 2009; Warren, J. E., Wise, R. J. S., & Warren, J. D. Sounds do-able: auditory–motor transformations and the posterior temporal plane. Trends in Neurosciences, 28, 636–643, 2005; Griffiths, T. D., & Warren, J. D. The planum temporale as a computational hub. Trends in Neurosciences, 25, 348–353, 2002], whereas more lateral structures on the STG may deal with phonetic analysis of the auditory input [Hickok, G. The functional neuroanatomy of language. Physics of Life Reviews, 6, 121–143, 2009].
Although interactivity is considered a fundamental principle of cognitive (and computational) models of reading, it has received far less attention in neural models of reading that instead focus on serial stages of feed-forward processing from visual input to orthographic processing to accessing the corresponding phonological and semantic information. In particular, the left ventral occipito-temporal (vOT) cortex is proposed to be the first stage where visual word recognition occurs prior to accessing nonvisual information such as semantics and phonology. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether there is evidence that activation in vOT is influenced top-down by the interaction of visual and nonvisual properties of the stimuli during visual word recognition tasks. Participants performed two different types of lexical decision tasks that focused on either visual or nonvisual properties of the word or word-like stimuli. The design allowed us to investigate how vOT activation during visual word recognition was influenced by a task change to the same stimuli and by a stimulus change during the same task. We found both stimulus- and task-driven modulation of vOT activation that can only be explained by top-down processing of nonvisual aspects of the task and stimuli. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that vOT acts as an interface linking visual form with nonvisual processing in both bottom up and top down directions. Such interactive processing at the neural level is in agreement with cognitive and computational models of reading but challenges some of the assumptions made by current neuro-anatomical models of reading.
►Activation in left vOT was modulated by task, even when stimuli were held constant. ►Activation in vOT was also modulated by stimulus differences. ►Activation in vOT could not be predicted by differences in response times. ►Top-down input to vOT is required to explain these effects.
Reading; Fusiform gyrus; fMRI; Lexical decision; Feedback
Occipito-temporal N170 component represents the first step where face, object and word processing are discriminated along the ventral stream of the brain. N170 leftward asymmetry observed during reading has been often associated to prelexical orthographic visual word form activation. However, some studies reported a lexical frequency effect for this component particularly during word repetition that appears in contradiction with this prelexical orthographic step. Here, we tested the hypothesis that under word repetition condition, discrimination between words would be operated on visual rather than orthographic basis. In this case, N170 activity may correspond to a logographic processing where a word is processed as a whole.
To test such an assumption, frequent words, infrequent words and pseudowords were presented to the subjects that had to complete a visual lexical decision task. Different repetition conditions were defined 1 – weak repetition, 2 – massive repetition and 3 – massive repetition with font alternation. This last condition was designed to change visual word shape during repetition and therefore to interfere with a possible visual strategy during word recognition.
Behavioral data showed an important frequency effect for the weak repetition condition, a lower but significant frequency effect for massive repetition, and no frequency effect for the changing font repetition. Moreover alternating font repetitions slowed subject's responses in comparison to "simple" massive repetition.
ERPs results evidenced larger N170 amplitude in the left hemisphere for frequent than both infrequent words and pseudowords during massive repetition. Moreover, when words were repeated with different fonts this N170 effect was not present, suggesting a visual locus for such a N170 frequency effect.
N170 represents an important step in visual word recognition, consisting probably in a prelexical orthographic processing. But during the reading of very frequent words or after a massive repetition of a word, it could represent a more holistic process where words are processed as a global visual pattern.
Event-related potential (ERP) studies of word recognition have provided fundamental insights into the time-course and stages of visual and auditory word form processing in reading. Here, we used ERPs to track the time-course of phonological processing in dyslexic adults and matched controls. Participants engaged in semantic judgments of visually presented high-cloze probability sentences ending either with (a) their best completion word, (b) a homophone of the best completion, (c) a pseudohomophone of the best completion, or (d) an unrelated word, to examine the interplay of phonological and orthographic processing in reading and the stage(s) of processing affected in developmental dyslexia. Early ERP peaks (N1, P2, N2) were modulated in amplitude similarly in the two groups of participants. However, dyslexic readers failed to show the P3a modulation seen in control participants for unexpected homophones and pseudohomophones (i.e., sentence completions that are acceptable phonologically but are misspelt). Furthermore, P3a amplitudes significantly correlated with reaction times in each experimental condition. Our results showed no sign of a deficit in accessing phonological representations during reading, since sentence primes yielded phonological priming effects that did not differ between participant groups in the early phases of processing. On the other hand, we report new evidence for a deficient attentional engagement with orthographically unexpected but phonologically expected words in dyslexia, irrespective of task focus on orthography or phonology. In our view, this result is consistent with deficiency in reading occurring from the point at which attention is oriented to phonological analysis, which may underlie broader difficulties in sublexical decoding.
developmental dyslexia; event-related potential; P3a; attention; orthographic processing; homophone; reading
Semantic dementia (SD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by atrophy of anterior temporal regions and progressive loss of semantic memory. SD patients often present with surface dyslexia, a relatively selective impairment in reading low-frequency words with exceptional or atypical spelling-to-sound correspondences. Exception words are typically ‘over-regularized’ in SD and pronounced as they are spelled (e.g. ‘sew’ is pronounced as ‘sue’). This suggests that in the absence of sufficient item-specific knowledge, exception words are read by relying mainly on subword processes for regular mapping of orthography to phonology. In this study, we investigated the functional anatomy of surface dyslexia in SD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and studied its relationship to structural damage with voxel-based morphometry (VBM). Five SD patients and nine healthy age-matched controls were scanned while they read regular words, exception words and pseudowords in an event-related design. Vocal responses were recorded and revealed that all patients were impaired in reading low-frequency exception words, and made frequent over-regularization errors. Consistent with prior studies, fMRI data revealed that both groups activated a similar basic network of bilateral occipital, motor and premotor regions for reading single words. VBM showed that these regions were not significantly atrophied in SD. In control subjects, a region in the left intraparietal sulcus was activated for reading pseudowords and low-frequency regular words but not exception words, suggesting a role for this area in subword mapping from orthographic to phonological representations. In SD patients only, this inferior parietal region, which was not atrophied, was also activated by reading low-frequency exception words, especially on trials where over-regularization errors occurred. These results suggest that the left intraparietal sulcus is involved in subword reading processes that are differentially recruited in SD when word-specific information is lost. This loss is likely related to degeneration of the anterior temporal lobe, which was severely atrophied in SD. Consistent with this, left mid-fusiform and superior temporal regions that showed reading-related activations in controls were not activated in SD. Taken together, these results suggest that the left inferior parietal region subserves subword orthographic-to-phonological processes that are recruited for exception word reading when retrieval of exceptional, item-specific word forms is impaired by degeneration of the anterior temporal lobe.
semantic dementia; dyslexia; parietal lobe; voxel-based morphometry; functional MRI
To examine neural response to spoken and printed language in children with speech sound errors (SSE).
Functional MRI was used to compare processing of auditorily and visually presented words and pseudowords in 17 children with SSE, ages 8;6–10;10, to 17 matched controls.
When processing spoken words and pseudowords, the SSE group showed less activation than typically speaking controls in left middle temporal gyrus. They also showed greater activation than controls in several cortical and subcortical regions (e.g., left superior temporal gyrus, globus pallidus, insula, fusiform and bilateral parietal regions). In response to printed words and pseudowords, children with SSE had greater activation than controls in regions including bilateral fusiform and anterior cingulate. Some differences were found in both speech and print processing that that may be associated with children with SSE failing to show common patterns of task-induced deactivation and/or attentional resource allocation.
Compared with controls, children with SSE appear to rely more upon several dorsal speech perception regions and less on ventral speech perception regions. When processing print, numerous regions were observed to be activated more for the SSE group than for controls.
Sentence comprehension (SC) studies in typical and impaired readers suggest that reading for meaning involves more extensive brain activation than reading isolated words. Thus far, no reading disability/dyslexia (RD) studies have directly controlled for the word recognition (WR) components of SC tasks, which is central for understanding comprehension processes beyond WR. This experiment compared SC to WR in 29, 9–14 year olds (15 typical and 14 impaired readers). The SC-WR contrast for each group showed activation in left inferior frontal and extrastriate regions, but the RD group showed significantly more activation than Controls in areas associated with linguistic processing (left middle/superior temporal gyri), and attention and response selection (bilateral insula, right cingulate gyrus, right superior frontal gyrus, and right parietal lobe). Further analyses revealed this overactivation was driven by the RD group's response to incongruous sentences. Correlations with out-of-scanner measures showed that better word- and text-level reading fluency was associated with greater left occipitotemporal activation, whereas worse performance on WR, fluency, and comprehension (reading and oral) were associated with greater right hemisphere activation in a variety of areas, including supramarginal and superior temporal gyri. Results provide initial foundations for understanding the neurobiological correlates of higher-level processes associated with reading comprehension.
dyslexia; neuroimaging; reading disabilities; sentence comprehension
Adult readers with developmental phonological dyslexia exhibit significant difficulty comparing pseudowords and pure tones in auditory working memory (AWM). This suggests deficient AWM skills for adults diagnosed with dyslexia. Despite behavioral differences, it is unknown whether neural substrates of AWM differ between adults diagnosed with dyslexia and normal readers. Prior neuroimaging of adults diagnosed with dyslexia and normal readers, and post-mortem findings of neural structural anomalies in adults diagnosed with dyslexia support the hypothesis of atypical neural activity in temporoparietal and inferior frontal regions during AWM tasks in adults diagnosed with dyslexia. We used fMRI during two binaural AWM tasks (pseudowords or pure tones comparisons) in adults diagnosed with dyslexia (n = 11) and normal readers (n = 11). For both AWM tasks, adults diagnosed with dyslexia exhibited greater activity in left posterior superior temporal (BA 22) and inferior parietal regions (BA 40) than normal readers. Comparing neural activity between groups and between stimuli contrasts (pseudowords vs. tones), adults diagnosed with dyslexia showed greater primary auditory cortex activity (BA 42; tones > pseudowords) than normal readers. Thus, greater activity in primary auditory, posterior superior temporal, and inferior parietal cortices during linguistic and non-linguistic AWM tasks for adults diagnosed with dyslexia compared to normal readers indicate differences in neural substrates of AWM comparison tasks.
Reading; Language; Linguistics; Adult; Cognition; Speech
Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by slow and inaccurate word recognition. Dyslexia has been found in every culture studied, and mounting evidence underscores cross-linguistic similarity in its neurobiological and neurocognitive bases. There has been considerable progress across levels of analysis in the last five years. At a neuropsychological level, the phonological theory remains the most compelling, though it is increasingly clear that phonological problems interact with other cognitive risk factors. At a neurobiological level, recent research confirms that dyslexia is characterized by dysfunction of the normal left hemisphere language network and also implicates abnormal white matter development. Studies accounting for reading experience demonstrate that many observed neural differences reflect causes rather than effects of dyslexia. At an etiologic risk level, six candidate genes have been identified, and there is evidence for gene by environment interaction. This review includes a focus on these and other recent developments.
Recent visual neuroscience investigations suggest that ventral occipito-temporal cortex is retinotopically organized, with high acuity foveal input projecting primarily to the posterior fusiform gyrus (pFG), making this region crucial for coding high spatial frequency information. Because high spatial frequencies are critical for fine-grained visual discrimination, we hypothesized that damage to the left pFG should have an adverse effect not only on efficient reading, as observed in pure alexia, but also on the processing of complex non-orthographic visual stimuli. Consistent with this hypothesis, we obtained evidence that a large case series (n = 20) of patients with lesions centered on left pFG: 1) Exhibited reduced sensitivity to high spatial frequencies; 2) demonstrated prolonged response latencies both in reading (pure alexia) and object naming; and 3) were especially sensitive to visual complexity and similarity when discriminating between novel visual patterns. These results suggest that the patients' dual reading and non-orthographic recognition impairments have a common underlying mechanism and reflect the loss of high spatial frequency visual information normally coded in the left pFG.
foveal/parafoveal vision; fusiform gyrus; letter-by-letter reading; pure alexia; spatial frequency; ventral occipito-temporal cortex; visual recognition