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VL2 2/2/12 Pugh Neuroimaging studies of Reading and Language Development

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Dr. Kenneth R. Pugh, Haskins Laboratory at Yale University

Neuroimaging studies of Reading and Language Development: An update on recent findings.

Reading disability (RD) has been characterized as a brain-based difficulty in acquiring fluent reading skill associated with problems in operating on the phonological structures of language. The claim of brain-basis is supported by a growing literature rife with reports of various sorts of anomalies in brain structure and function in RD. We will present data showing that relative to typically developing (TD) readers, RD children and adolescents fail to coherently engage left hemisphere (LH) occipitotemporal (OT) and temporoparietal (TP) regions during language and reading tasks. Additionally, structural neuroimaging studies reveal group differences in both grey matter density and white matter connectivity in key LH regions. Brain/behavior analyses have indicated that the development of reading fluency in children is strongly associated with the development of a well-integrated left hemisphere posterior reading system. With regard to plasticity and learning, intervention studies have examined the influence of intensive phonological remediation in at-risk children and adolescents, revealing substantial gains in both reading scores and development of these posterior LH reading systems for readers afforded this treatment. Recent extensions of learning studies with older RD readers continue to suggest a high degree of plasticity in this age-range. Implications for theory and practice will be discussed. Finally, new and ongoing longitudinal studies examining gene-brain-behavior relations in high risk children are discussed. February 2, 2012

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