Left lateralized white matter microstructure accounts for individual differences in reading ability and disability

Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(11):2178-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.01.011. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to investigate the association between variation in white matter microstructure and individual differences in reading skill within children. Unlike previous DTI studies of reading, our sample examined children in both the average reading range as well as several children in the performance range of reading disability (RD). Results replicate previous findings of a strong correlation between fractional anisotropy (FA) values in a left temporo-parietal white matter region and standardized reading scores of typically developing children. Furthermore, FA values in this same region accounted for differences between children scoring in the average range and children scoring in the RD range, suggesting that the role of white matter tract microstructure is best characterized as an extreme range on a continuum of typical variation. Furthermore, significant correlations between working memory and frontal white matter tract regions were present in this same population, yet were demonstrated to be independent of the relationships found between reading and more posterior regions. Results form a "correlational double dissociation" that demonstrates domain specificity in the influence of white matter tract structures to individual differences in cognitive performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Reading*