Altering cortical connectivity: remediation-induced changes in the white matter of poor readers

Neuron. 2009 Dec 10;64(5):624-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.10.018.


Neuroimaging studies using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have revealed regions of cerebral white matter with decreased microstructural organization (lowerfractional anisotropy or FA) among poor readers. We examined whether 100 hr of intensive remedial instruction affected the white matter of 8- to 10-year-old poor readers. Prior to instruction, poor readers had significantly lower FA than good readers in a region of the left anterior centrum semiovale. The instruction resulted in a change in white matter (significantly increased FA), and in the very same region. The FA increase was correlated with a decrease in radial diffusivity (but not with a change in axial diffusivity), suggesting that myelination had increased. Furthermore, the FA increase was correlated with improvement in phonological decoding ability, clarifying the cognitive locus of the effect. The results demonstrate the capability of a behavioral intervention to bring about a positive change in cortico-cortical white matter tracts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Dyslexia* / pathology
  • Dyslexia* / physiopathology
  • Dyslexia* / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests