Reading in the brain of children and adults: a meta-analysis of 40 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies

Hum Brain Mapp. 2015 May;36(5):1963-81. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22749. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


We used quantitative, coordinate-based meta-analysis to objectively synthesize age-related commonalities and differences in brain activation patterns reported in 40 functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of reading in children and adults. Twenty fMRI studies with adults (age means: 23-34 years) were matched to 20 studies with children (age means: 7-12 years). The separate meta-analyses of these two sets showed a pattern of reading-related brain activation common to children and adults in left ventral occipito-temporal (OT), inferior frontal, and posterior parietal regions. The direct statistical comparison between the two meta-analytic maps of children and adults revealed higher convergence in studies with children in left superior temporal and bilateral supplementary motor regions. In contrast, higher convergence in studies with adults was identified in bilateral posterior OT/cerebellar and left dorsal precentral regions. The results are discussed in relation to current neuroanatomical models of reading and tentative functional interpretations of reading-related activation clusters in children and adults are provided.

Keywords: adult; brain mapping; child; development; functional magnetic resonance imaging; meta-analysis; neuroimaging; reading.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Reading*
  • Young Adult