A meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of dyslexia

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec:1145:237-59. doi: 10.1196/annals.1416.024.


Reading and phonological processing deficits have been the primary focus of neuroimaging studies addressing the neurologic basis of developmental dyslexia, but to date there has been no objective assessment of the consistency of these findings. To address this issue, spatial coordinates reported in the literature were submitted to two parallel activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analyses. First, a meta-analysis including 96 foci from nine publications identified regions where typical readers are likely to show greater activation than dyslexics: two left extrastriate areas within BA 37, precuneus, inferior parietal cortex, superior temporal gyrus, thalamus, and left inferior frontal gyrus. Right hemisphere ALE foci representing hypoactivity in dyslexia were found in the fusiform, postcentral, and superior temporal gyri. To identify regions in which dyslexic subjects reliably show greater activation than controls, 75 foci from six papers were entered into a second meta-analysis. Here ALE results revealed hyperactivity associated with dyslexia in right thalamus and anterior insula. These findings suggest that during the performance of a variety of reading tasks, normal readers activate left-sided brain areas more than dyslexic readers do, whereas dyslexia is associated with greater right-sided brain activity. The most robust result was in left extrastriate cortex, where hypoactivity associated with dyslexia was found. However, the ALE maps provided no support for cerebellar dysfunction, nor for hyperactivity in left frontal cortex in dyslexia, suggesting that these findings, unlike those described above, are likely to be more varied in terms of their reproducibility or spatial location.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Dyslexia / diagnostic imaging
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography