Relationship between receptive vocabulary and the neural substrates for story processing in preschoolers

Brain Imaging Behav. 2015 Mar;9(1):43-55. doi: 10.1007/s11682-014-9342-8.


A left-lateralized fronto-temporo-parietal language network has been well-characterized in adults; however, the neural basis of this fundamental network has hardly been explored in the preschool years, despite this being a time for rapid language development and vocabulary growth. We examined the functional imaging correlates associated with vocabulary ability and narrative comprehension in 30 preschool children ages 3 to 5. Bilateral auditory cortex and superior temporal activation as well as left angular and supramarginal gyrus activation were observed during a passive listening-to-stories task. Boys showed greater activation than girls in the right anterior cingulate and right superior frontal gyrus (SFG). Finally, children with higher vocabulary scores showed increased grey matter left-lateralization and greater activation in bilateral thalamus, hippocampus, and left angular gyrus. This study is novel in its approach to relate left-hemisphere language regions and vocabulary scores in preschool-aged children using fMRI.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrum / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Vocabulary*