Neuroimaging of reading intervention: a systematic review and activation likelihood estimate meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 10;9(1):e83668. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083668. eCollection 2014.


A growing number of studies examine instructional training and brain activity. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature regarding neuroimaging of reading intervention, with a particular focus on reading difficulties (RD). To locate relevant studies, searches of peer-reviewed literature were conducted using electronic databases to search for studies from the imaging modalities of fMRI and MEG (including MSI) that explored reading intervention. Of the 96 identified studies, 22 met the inclusion criteria for descriptive analysis. A subset of these (8 fMRI experiments with post-intervention data) was subjected to activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis to investigate differences in functional activation following reading intervention. Findings from the literature review suggest differences in functional activation of numerous brain regions associated with reading intervention, including bilateral inferior frontal, superior temporal, middle temporal, middle frontal, superior frontal, and postcentral gyri, as well as bilateral occipital cortex, inferior parietal lobules, thalami, and insulae. Findings from the meta-analysis indicate change in functional activation following reading intervention in the left thalamus, right insula/inferior frontal, left inferior frontal, right posterior cingulate, and left middle occipital gyri. Though these findings should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of studies and the disparate methodologies used, this paper is an effort to synthesize across studies and to guide future exploration of neuroimaging and reading intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Reading*