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Reading and Spelling Skills Are Differentially Related to Phonological Processing: Behavioral and fMRI Study


Reading and Spelling Skills Are Differentially Related to Phonological Processing: Behavioral and fMRI Study

Agnieszka Dębska et al. Dev Cogn Neurosci.


The manuscript reports a study on a large sample (N = 170) of Polish speaking 8-13 year old children, whose brain activation was measured in relation to tasks that require auditory phonological processing. We aimed to relate brain activation to individual differences in reading and spelling. We found that individual proficiency in both reading and spelling significantly correlated with activation of the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex encompassing the Visual Word Form Area which has been implicated in automatic orthographic activations. Reading but not spelling was found to correlate with activation in the left anterior dorsal stream (anterior supramarginal and postcentral gyri). Our results indicate that the level of both reading and spelling is related to activity in areas involved in the storage of fine-grained orthographic representations. However, only the reading level is uniquely related to activity of regions responsible for the articulation, motor planning and grapheme-to-phoneme correspondence, which form the basis for effective decoding skill.

Keywords: Orthography; Phonology; Reading; Spelling; fMRI.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Clusters showing significant positive correlations with READ and SPELL skills in three phonological tasks.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Structures engaged in the interaction effect (positive correlations with reading but not spelling) in the pseudoword matching task.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
ROI comparisons. (A) Comparison of functionally distinct phonological regions in the left SMG (Oberhuber et al., 2016), pd = posterior, a = anterior, d = dorsal, v = ventral, and regions correlated only with the reading but not the spelling factor (SMG, PostC). (B) Comparison of lvOT regions (Lerma-Usabiaga et al., 2018), pVWFA = posterior VWFA, cVWFA = classical VWFA, overlapped with the areas correlated with the spelling and reading factors.

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