Brain activation during sentence comprehension among good and poor readers

A Meyler
Timothy A. Keller
Vladimir L. Cherkassky
D Lee
F Hoeft
S Whitfield-Gabrieli
John Gabrieli
Marcel Adam Just

Abstract or Description

This study sought to increase current understanding of the neuropsychological basis of poor reading ability by using fMRI to examine brain activation during a visual sentence comprehension task among good and poor readers in the third (n = 32) and fifth (n = 35) grades. Reading ability, age, and the combination of both factors made unique contributions to cortical activation. The main finding was of parietotemporal underactivation (less activation than controls) among poor readers at the 2 grade levels. A positive linear relationship (spanning both the poor and good readers) was found between reading ability and activation in the left posterior middle temporal and postcentral gyri and in the right inferior parietal lobule such that activation increased with reading ability. Different developmental trajectories characterized good and poor readers in the left angular gyrus: activation increased with age among good readers, a change that failed to occur among poor readers. The parietotemporal cortex is discussed in terms of its role in reading acquisition, with the left angular gyrus playing a key role. It is proposed that the functioning of the cortical network underlying reading is dependent on a combination of interacting factors, including physiological maturation, neural integrity, skill level, and the nature of the task.