Comprehending text versus reading words in young readers with varying reading ability: distinct patterns of functional connectivity from common processing hubs.
ABSTRACT: Skilled reading depends on recognizing words efficiently in isolation (word-level processing; WL) and extracting meaning from text (discourse-level processing; DL); deficiencies in either result in poor reading. FMRI has revealed consistent overlapping networks in word and passage reading, as well as unique regions for DL processing; however, less is known about how WL and DL processes interact. Here we examined functional connectivity from seed regions derived from where BOLD signal overlapped during word and passage reading in 38 adolescents ranging in reading ability, hypothesizing that even though certain regions support word- and higher-level language, connectivity patterns from overlapping regions would be task modulated. Results indeed revealed that the left-lateralized semantic and working memory (WM) seed regions showed task-dependent functional connectivity patterns: during DL processes, semantic and WM nodes all correlated with the left angular gyrus, a region implicated in semantic memory/coherence building. In contrast, during WL, these nodes coordinated with a traditional WL area (left occipitotemporal region). In addition, these WL and DL findings were modulated by decoding and comprehension abilities, respectively, with poorer abilities correlating with decreased connectivity. Findings indicate that key regions may uniquely contribute to multiple levels of reading; we speculate that these connectivity patterns may be especially salient for reading outcomes and intervention response.
Project description:Developmental dyslexia is one of the most prevalent learning disabilities, thought to be associated with dysfunction in the neural systems underlying typical reading acquisition. Neuroimaging research has shown that readers with dyslexia exhibit regional hypoactivation in left hemisphere reading nodes, relative to control counterparts. This evidence, however, comes from studies that have focused only on isolated aspects of reading. The present study aims to characterize left hemisphere regional hypoactivation in readers with dyslexia for the main processes involved in successful reading: phonological, orthographic and semantic. Forty-one participants performed a demanding reading task during MRI scanning. Results showed that readers with dyslexia exhibited hypoactivation associated with phonological processing in parietal regions; with orthographic processing in parietal regions, Broca's area, ventral occipitotemporal cortex and thalamus; and with semantic processing in angular gyrus and hippocampus. Stronger functional connectivity was observed for readers with dyslexia than for control readers 1) between the thalamus and the inferior parietal cortex/ventral occipitotemporal cortex during pseudoword reading; and, 2) between the hippocampus and the pars opercularis during word reading. These findings constitute the strongest evidence to date for the interplay between regional hypoactivation and functional connectivity in the main processes supporting reading in dyslexia.
Project description:This study tested the efficacy of audio-visual reading training in nine patients with pure alexia, an acquired reading disorder caused by damage to the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex. As well as testing the therapy's impact on reading speed, we investigated the functional reorganization underlying therapy-induced behavioural changes using magnetoencephalography. Reading ability was tested twice before training (t1 and t2) and twice after completion of the 6-week training period (t3 and t4). At t3 there was a significant improvement in word reading speed and reduction of the word length effect for trained words only. Magnetoencephalography at t3 demonstrated significant differences in reading network connectivity for trained and untrained words. The training effects were supported by increased bidirectional connectivity between the left occipital and ventral occipitotemporal perilesional cortex, and increased feedback connectivity from the left inferior frontal gyrus. Conversely, connection strengths between right hemisphere regions became weaker after training.
Project description:Reading is a complex cognitive skill subserved by a distributed network of visual and language-related regions. Disruptions of connectivity within this network have been associated with developmental dyslexia but their relation to individual differences in the severity of reading problems remains unclear. Here we investigate whether dysfunctional connectivity scales with the level of reading dysfluency by examining EEG recordings during visual word and false font processing in 9-year-old typically reading children (TR) and two groups of dyslexic children: severely dysfluent (SDD) and moderately dysfluent (MDD) dyslexics. Results indicated weaker occipital to inferior-temporal connectivity for words in both dyslexic groups relative to TRs. Furthermore, SDDs exhibited stronger connectivity from left central to right inferior-temporal and occipital sites for words relative to TRs, and for false fonts relative to both MDDs and TRs. Importantly, reading fluency was positively related with forward and negatively with backward connectivity. Our results suggest disrupted visual processing of words in both dyslexic groups, together with a compensatory recruitment of right posterior brain regions especially in the SDDs during word and false font processing. Functional connectivity in the brain's reading network may thus depend on the level of reading dysfluency beyond group differences between dyslexic and typical readers.
Project description:Reading aloud involves computing the sound of a word from its visual form. This may be accomplished 1) by direct associations between spellings and phonology and 2) by computation from orthography to meaning to phonology. These components have been studied in behavioral experiments examining lexical properties such as word frequency; length in letters or phonemes; spelling-sound consistency; semantic factors such as imageability, measures of orthographic, or phonological complexity; and others. Effects of these lexical properties on specific neural systems, however, are poorly understood, partially because high intercorrelations among lexical factors make it difficult to determine if they have independent effects. We addressed this problem by decorrelating several important lexical properties through careful stimulus selection. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data revealed distributed neural systems for mapping orthography directly to phonology, involving left supramarginal, posterior middle temporal, and fusiform gyri. Distinct from these were areas reflecting semantic processing, including left middle temporal gyrus/inferior-temporal sulcus, bilateral angular gyrus, and precuneus/posterior cingulate. Left inferior frontal regions generally showed increased activation with greater task load, suggesting a more general role in attention, working memory, and executive processes. These data offer the first clear evidence, in a single study, for the separate neural correlates of orthography-phonology mapping and semantic access during reading aloud.
Project description:Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) approaches offer a novel tool to delineate distinct functional networks in the brain. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we elucidated patterns of RSFC associated with 6 regions of interest selected primarily from a meta-analysis on word reading (Bolger DJ, Perfetti CA, Schneider W. 2005. Cross-cultural effect on the brain revisited: universal structures plus writing system variation. Hum Brain Mapp. 25: 92-104). In 25 native adult readers of English, patterns of positive RSFC were consistent with patterns of task-based activity and functional connectivity associated with word reading. Moreover, conjunction analyses highlighted the posterior left inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior left middle temporal gyrus (post-LMTG) as potentially important loci of functional interaction among 5 of the 6 reading networks. The significance of the post-LMTG has typically been unappreciated in task-based studies on unimpaired readers but is frequently reported to be a locus of hypoactivity in dyslexic readers and exhibits intervention-induced changes of activity in dyslexic children. Finally, patterns of negative RSFC included not only regions of the so-called default mode network but also regions involved in effortful controlled processes, which may not be required once reading becomes automatized. In conclusion, the current study supports the utility of resting-state fMRI for investigating reading networks and has direct relevance for the understanding of reading disorders such as dyslexia.
Project description:The present work addresses the neural bases of sentence reading in deaf populations. To better understand the relative role of deafness and spoken language knowledge in shaping the neural networks that mediate sentence reading, three populations with different degrees of English knowledge and depth of hearing loss were included-deaf signers, oral deaf and hearing individuals. The three groups were matched for reading comprehension and scanned while reading sentences. A similar neural network of left perisylvian areas was observed, supporting the view of a shared network of areas for reading despite differences in hearing and English knowledge. However, differences were observed, in particular in the auditory cortex, with deaf signers and oral deaf showing greatest bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG) recruitment as compared to hearing individuals. Importantly, within deaf individuals, the same STG area in the left hemisphere showed greater recruitment as hearing loss increased. To further understand the functional role of such auditory cortex re-organization after deafness, connectivity analyses were performed from the STG regions identified above. Connectivity from the left STG toward areas typically associated with semantic processing (BA45 and thalami) was greater in deaf signers and in oral deaf as compared to hearing. In contrast, connectivity from left STG toward areas identified with speech-based processing was greater in hearing and in oral deaf as compared to deaf signers. These results support the growing literature indicating recruitment of auditory areas after congenital deafness for visually-mediated language functions, and establish that both auditory deprivation and language experience shape its functional reorganization. Implications for differential reliance on semantic vs. phonological pathways during reading in the three groups is discussed.
Project description:With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, especially functional MRI (fMRI), studies have mapped brain regions that are associated with good and poor reading, most centrally a region within the left occipito-temporal/fusiform region (L-OT/F) often referred to as the visual word form area (VWFA). Despite an abundance of fMRI studies of the putative VWFA, research about its structural connectivity has just started. Provided that the putative VWFA may be connected to distributed regions in the brain, it remains unclear how this network is engaged in constituting a well-tuned reading circuitry in the brain. Here we used diffusion MRI to study the structural connectivity patterns of the putative VWFA and surrounding areas within the L-OT/F in children with typically developing (TD) reading ability and with word recognition deficits (WRD; sometimes referred to as dyslexia). We found that L-OT/F connectivity varied along a posterior-anterior gradient, with specific structural connectivity patterns related to reading ability in the ROIs centered upon the putative VWFA. Findings suggest that the architecture of the putative VWFA connectivity is fundamentally different between TD and WRD, with TD showing greater connectivity to linguistic regions than WRD, and WRD showing greater connectivity to visual and parahippocampal regions than TD. Findings thus reveal clear structural abnormalities underlying the functional abnormalities in the putative VWFA in WRD.
Project description:In the current study, we present a novel fMRI protocol in which words, pseudowords, and other word-like stimuli are passively presented in a rapid, sequential fashion. In this "fast" localizer paradigm, items are presented in groups of four; within sets, words are related in orthographic, phonological, and/or semantic properties. We tested this protocol with a group of skilled adult readers (N=18). Analyses uncovered key regions of the reading network that were sensitive to different component processes at the group level; namely, left fusiform gyrus as well as the pars opercularis subregion of inferior frontal gyrus were sensitive to lexicality; several regions including left precentral gyrus and left supramarginal gyrus were sensitive to spelling-sound consistency; the pars triangularis subregion of inferior frontal gyrus was sensitive to semantic similarity. Additionally, in a number of key brain regions, activation in response to semantically similar words was related to individual differences in reading comprehension outside the scanner. Importantly, these findings are in line with previous investigations of the reading network, yet data were obtained using much less imaging time than comparable paradigms currently available, especially relative to the number of indices of component processes obtained. This feature, combined with the relatively simple nature of the task, renders it appropriate for groups of subjects with a wide range of reading abilities, including children with impairments.
Project description:An influential account of reading holds that words with exceptional spelling-to-sound correspondences (e.g., PINT) are read via activation of their lexical-semantic representations, supported by the anterior temporal lobe (ATL). This account has been inconclusive because it is based on neuropsychological evidence, in which lesion-deficit relationships are difficult to localize precisely, and functional neuroimaging data, which is spatially precise but cannot demonstrate whether the ATL activity is necessary for exception word reading. To address these issues, we used a technique with good spatial specificity-repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)-to demonstrate a necessary role of ATL in exception word reading. Following rTMS to left ventral ATL, healthy Japanese adults made more regularization errors in reading Japanese exception words. We successfully simulated these results in a computational model in which exception word reading was underpinned by semantic activations. The ATL is critically and selectively involved in reading exception words.
Project description:Although an extensive literature exists on the neurobiological correlates of dyslexia (DYS), to date, no studies have examined the neurobiological profile of those who exhibit poor reading comprehension despite intact word-level abilities (specific reading comprehension deficits [S-RCD]). Here we investigated the word-level abilities of S-RCD as compared to typically developing readers (TD) and those with DYS by examining the blood oxygenation-level dependent response to words varying on frequency. Understanding whether S-RCD process words in the same manner as TD, or show alternate pathways to achieve normal word-reading abilities, may provide insights into the origin of this disorder. Results showed that as compared to TD, DYS showed abnormal covariance during word processing with right-hemisphere homologs of the left-hemisphere reading network in conjunction with left occipitotemporal underactivation. In contrast, S-RCD showed an intact neurobiological response to word stimuli in occipitotemporal regions (associated with fast and efficient word processing); however, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) abnormalities were observed. Specifically, TD showed a higher-percent signal change within right IFG for low-versus-high frequency words as compared to both S-RCD and DYS. Using psychophysiological interaction analyses, a coupling-by-reading group interaction was found in right IFG for DYS, as indicated by a widespread greater covariance between right IFG and right occipitotemporal cortex/visual word-form areas, as well as bilateral medial frontal gyrus, as compared to TD. For S-RCD, the context-dependent functional interaction anomaly was most prominently seen in left IFG, which covaried to a greater extent with hippocampal, parahippocampal, and prefrontal areas than for TD for low- as compared to high-frequency words. Given the greater lexical access demands of low frequency as compared to high-frequency words, these results may suggest specific weaknesses in accessing lexical-semantic representations during word recognition. These novel findings provide foundational insights into the nature of S-RCD, and set the stage for future investigations of this common, but understudied, reading disorder.