A molecular-genetic and imaging-genetic approach to specific comprehension difficulties in children

NPJ Sci Learn. 2018 Nov 21;3:20. doi: 10.1038/s41539-018-0034-9. eCollection 2018.


Children with poor reading comprehension despite typical word reading skills were examined using neuropsychological, genetic, and neuroimaging data collected from the Genes, Reading and Dyslexia Study of 1432 Hispanic American and African American children. This unexpected poor comprehension was associated with profound deficits in vocabulary, when compared to children with comprehension skills consistent with their word reading. Those with specific comprehension difficulties were also more likely to have RU2Short alleles of READ1 regulatory variants of DCDC2, strongly associated with reading and language difficulties. Subjects with RU2Short alleles showed stronger resting state functional connectivity between the right insula/inferior frontal gyrus and the right supramarginal gyrus, even after controlling for potentially confounding variables including genetic ancestry and socioeconomic status. This multi-disciplinary approach advances the current understanding of specific reading comprehension difficulties, and suggests the need for interventions that are more appropriately tailored to the specific comprehension deficits of this group of children.