Tackling the 'dyslexia paradox': reading brain and behavior for early markers of developmental dyslexia

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. Mar-Apr 2016;7(2):156-76. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1383. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Developmental dyslexia is an unexplained inability to acquire accurate or fluent reading that affects approximately 5-17% of children. Dyslexia is associated with structural and functional alterations in various brain regions that support reading. Neuroimaging studies in infants and pre-reading children suggest that these alterations predate reading instruction and reading failure, supporting the hypothesis that variant function in dyslexia susceptibility genes lead to atypical neural migration and/or axonal growth during early, most likely in utero, brain development. Yet, dyslexia is typically not diagnosed until a child has failed to learn to read as expected (usually in second grade or later). There is emerging evidence that neuroimaging measures, when combined with key behavioral measures, can enhance the accuracy of identification of dyslexia risk in pre-reading children but its sensitivity, specificity, and cost-efficiency is still unclear. Early identification of dyslexia risk carries important implications for dyslexia remediation and the amelioration of the psychosocial consequences commonly associated with reading failure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis*
  • Dyslexia / pathology
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Reading
  • Risk Factors
  • Speech Perception


  • Biomarkers