Intrinsic Cerebro-Cerebellar Functional Connectivity Reveals the Function of Cerebellum VI in Reading-Related Skills

Front Psychol. 2020 Mar 20;11:420. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00420. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

The engagement of the cerebellum VI in reading was reported in both typically developing and dyslexic readers. However, it is still not clear how the cerebellum VI contributes to reading. Here we have examined the correlation of intrinsic cerebro-cerebellar functional connectivity with two critical reading-related skills-phonological awareness (PA) and rapid automatized naming (RAN)-with fMRI technology. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that the cerebellum may contribute to reading either by phonological skills or by automatizing skills. We chose the left and right cerebellum VI as ROIs, and we calculated the intrinsic cerebro-cerebellar functional connectivity during a resting state. We further explored whether and how cerebro-cerebellar resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) is associated with individuals' reading-related skills including PA and RAN. The results showed that the functional connectivity between the left supramarginal gyrus and bilateral cerebellum VI was related to RAN, and the connectivity between the left insula and right cerebellum VI was related to PA. However, the effect of PA did not survive after the RAN was regressed out. Control analyses further confirmed that it was the intrinsic cerebro-cerebellar functional connectivity rather than the local cerebellar functionality that associated with phonological awareness ability and rapid automatized naming ability. For the first time, the relationship between cerebro-cerebellar resting state functional connectivity and specific reading-related skills has been explored, and this has deepened our understanding of the way the cerebellum VI is involved in reading.

Keywords: cerebellum VI; fMRI; phonological awareness; rapid automatized naming; resting state functional connectivity.