Is developmental dyslexia a disconnection syndrome? Evidence from PET scanning

Brain. 1996 Feb;119 ( Pt 1):143-57. doi: 10.1093/brain/119.1.143.


A rhyming and short-term memory task with visually presented letters were used to study brain activity in five compensated adult developmental dyslexics. Their only cognitive difficulty was in phonological processing, manifest in a wide range of tasks including spoonerisms, phonemic fluency and digit naming speed. PET scans showed that for the dyslexics, a subset only of the brain regions normally involved in phonological processing was activated: Broca's area during the rhyming task, temporo-parietal cortex during the short- term memory task. In contrast to normal controls these areas were not activated in concert. Furthermore the left insula was never activated. We propose that the defective phonological system of these dyslexics is due to weak connectivity between anterior and posterior language areas. This could be due to a dysfunctional left insula which may normally act as an anatomical bridge between Broca's area, superior temporal and inferior parietal cortex. The independent activation of the posterior and anterior speech areas in dyslexics supports the notion that representations of unsegmented and segmented phonology are functionally and anatomically separate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Dyslexia / classification
  • Dyslexia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Phonetics
  • Reference Values
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Syndrome
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*