Learning to read improves the structure of the arcuate fasciculus
Cerebral Cortex. 2012-12-12; 24(4): 989-995
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1. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Apr;24(4):989-95. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs383. Epub 2012 Dec
Learning to read improves the structure of the arcuate fasciculus.
Thiebaut de Schotten M(1), Cohen L, Amemiya E, Braga LW, Dehaene S.
(1)Natbrainlab, Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Institute
of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, UK.
The acquisition of literacy results from an effortful learning process that leads
to functional changes in several cortical regions. We explored whether learning
to read also leads to anatomical changes within the left intrahemispheric white
matter pathways that interconnect these regions. Using diffusion tensor imaging
tractography, we compared illiterates with ex-illiterates who learned to read
during adulthood and literates who learned to read during their childhood.
Literacy related to an increase in fractional anisotropy and a decrease in
perpendicular diffusivity in the temporo-parietal portion of the left arcuate
fasciculus. The microstructure within this pathway correlated with the reading
performance and the degree of functional activation within 2 dominant brain
regions involved in reading: The Visual Word Form Area in response to letter
strings, and the posterior superior temporal cortex in response to spoken
language. Thus, the acquisition of literacy is associated with a reinforcement of
left temporo-parietal connections whose microstructure predicts overall reading
performance and the functional specialization of the Visual Word Form Area. This
anatomical magnetic resonance imaging marker may be useful to predict
developmental reading disorders.
PMID: 23236205 [Indexed for MEDLINE]