A developmental fMRI study of reading and repetition reveals changes in phonological and visual mechanisms over age

Cereb Cortex. 2008 Sep;18(9):2054-65. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhm228. Epub 2008 Jan 31.


In this study of reading development, children (ages 7-10) and adults (ages 18-32) performed overt single-word reading and aural repetition tasks on high-frequency word stimuli during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Most regions showed similar activity across age groups. These widespread regions of similarity indicate that children and adults use largely overlapping mechanisms when processing high-frequency words. Significant task-related differences included greater activity in occipital cortex for the read task, and greater activity in temporal cortex for the repeat task; activity levels in these regions were similar for adults and children. However, age group differences were found in several posterior regions, including a set of regions implicated in adult reading: the left supramarginal gyrus, the left angular gyrus, and bilateral anterior extrastriate cortex. The angular and supramarginal gyrus regions, hypothesized to play a role in phonology, showed decreased activity in adults relative to children for high-frequency words. The extrastriate regions had significant activity for both the visual read task and auditory repeat task in children, but just for the read task in adults, showing significant task and age interactions. These results are consistent with decreasing reliance on phonological processing, and increasing tuning of visual mechanisms, with age.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Parietal Lobe / growth & development*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reading*
  • Speech
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*