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Developmental Trajectories of White Matter Structure in Children With and Without Reading Impairments

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Developmental Trajectories of White Matter Structure in Children With and Without Reading Impairments

Catherine Lebel et al. Dev Cogn Neurosci.

Abstract

Left temporal-parietal white matter structure is consistently associated with reading abilities in children. A small number of longitudinal studies show that development of this area over time is altered in children with impaired reading. However, it remains unclear how brain developmental patterns relate to specific reading skills such as fluency, which is a critical part of reading comprehension. Here, we examined white matter development trajectories in children with dysfluent reading (20 dysfluent and inaccurate readers, 36 dysfluent and accurate readers) compared to non-impaired readers (n = 14) over 18 months. We found typical age-related increases of fractional anisotropy (FA) in bilateral temporal-parietal areas in non-impaired readers, but a lack of similar changes in dysfluent readers. We also found steeper decreases of mean diffusivity (MD) in the right corona radiata and left uncinate fasciculus in dysfluent inaccurate readers compared to dysfluent accurate readers. Changes in diffusion parameters were correlated with changes in reading scores over time. These results suggest delayed white matter development in dysfluent readers, and show maturational differences between children with different types of reading impairment. Overall, these results highlight the importance of considering developmental trajectories, and demonstrate that the window of plasticity may be different for different children.

Keywords: Accuracy; Diffusion tensor imaging; Dyslexia; Fluency; Reading; White matter.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Trajectories of white matter development differed in dysfluent inaccurate, dysfluent accurate, and non-impaired readers in several brain regions (A–F). Solid lines represent significant relationships, while dotted lines represent non-significant fits; each group is shown in a different colour. The figures in the centre show the average fractional anisotropy map with the tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) skeleton overlaid in green. Regions of interest that had significant group differences in trajectories are shown in colours.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Significant relationships were observed between changes in reading scores and changes in DTI parameters for the three regions shown above, as well as the average values across the skeleton (A–F). Relationships did not differ significantly by group. The brain image in the centre shows the average fractional anisotropy map with the tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) skeleton overlaid in green. Regions of interest that had significant correlations are shown in colours.

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