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.
Keywords: alexia; connectivity; magnetoencephalography; reading disorders; stroke.