Changes in cerebellar activity and inter-hemispheric coherence accompany improved reading performance following Quadrato Motor Training

Front Syst Neurosci. 2014 May 9;8:81. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00081. eCollection 2014.


Dyslexia is a multifactorial reading deficit that involves multiple brain systems. Among other theories, it has been suggested that cerebellar dysfunction may be involved in dyslexia. This theory has been supported by findings from anatomical and functional imaging. A possible rationale for cerebellar involvement in dyslexia could lie in the cerebellum's role as an oscillator, producing synchronized activity within neuronal networks including sensorimotor networks critical for reading. If these findings are causally related to dyslexia, a training regimen that enhances cerebellar oscillatory activity should improve reading performance. We examined the cognitive and neural effects of Quadrato Motor Training (QMT), a structured sensorimotor training program that involves sequencing of motor responses based on verbal commands. Twenty-two adult Hebrew readers (12 dyslexics and 10 controls) were recruited for the study. Using Magnetoencephalography (MEG), we measured changes in alpha power and coherence following QMT in a within-subject design. Reading performance was assessed pre- and post-training using a comprehensive battery of behavioral tests. Our results demonstrate improved performance on a speeded reading task following one month of intensive QMT in both the dyslexic and control groups. Dyslexic participants, but not controls, showed significant increase in cerebellar oscillatory alpha power following training. In addition, across both time points, inter-hemispheric alpha coherence was higher in the dyslexic group compared to the control group. In conclusion, the current findings suggest that the combination of motor and language training embedded in QMT increases cerebellar oscillatory activity in dyslexics and improves reading performance. These results support the hypothesis that the cerebellum plays a role in skilled reading, and begin to unravel the underlying mechanisms that mediate cerebellar contribution in cognitive and neuronal augmentation.

Keywords: MEG; alpha power; cerebellum; coherence; dyslexia; motor training; reading.