Dyslexia and voxel-based morphometry: correlations between five behavioural measures of dyslexia and gray and white matter volumes

Ann Dyslexia. 2015 Oct;65(3):121-41. doi: 10.1007/s11881-015-0102-2. Epub 2015 Apr 24.


In voxel-based morphometry studies of dyslexia, the relation between causal theories of dyslexia and gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volume alterations is still under debate. Some alterations are consistently reported, but others failed to reach significance. We investigated GM alterations in a large sample of Dutch students (37 dyslexics and 57 non-dyslexics) with two analyses: group differences in local GM and total GM and WM volume and correlations between GM and WM volumes and five behavioural measures. We found no significant group differences after corrections for multiple comparisons although total WM volume was lower in the group of dyslexics when age was partialled out. We presented an overview of uncorrected clusters of voxels (p < 0.05, cluster size k > 200) with reduced or increased GM volume. We found four significant correlations between factors of dyslexia representing various behavioural measures and the clusters found in the first analysis. In the whole sample, a factor related to performances in spelling correlated negatively with GM volume in the left posterior cerebellum. Within the group of dyslexics, a factor related to performances in Dutch-English rhyme words correlated positively with GM volume in the left and right caudate nucleus and negatively with increased total WM volume. Most of our findings were in accordance with previous reports. A relatively new finding was the involvement of the caudate nucleus. We confirmed the multiple cognitive nature of dyslexia and suggested that experience greatly influences anatomical alterations depending on various subtypes of dyslexia, especially in a student sample.

Keywords: Caudate nucleus; Cerebellum; Dyslexia; Gray matter; MRI; VBM; White matter.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Dyslexia / pathology*
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology
  • Dyslexia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Organ Size
  • White Matter / pathology*
  • Young Adult