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Dynamics of the Anatomical Changes That Occur in the Brains of Schoolchildren as They Learn to Read

Abstract : Although the functional brain network involved in reading for adults and children is now well documented, a critical lack of knowledge still exists about the structural development of these brain areas. To provide a better overview of the structural dynamics of the brain that sustain reading acquisition, we acquired anatomical MRI brain images from 55 children that were divided into two groups: one prior to the formal learning of reading (n = 33, 5-6 years old) and the second a few years after formal learning (n = 22, 9-10 years old). Reading performances were collected based on the ''Alouette-R'' test, a standardized test for reading text in French. Voxel-based morphometry analysis of gray matter showed that only the right insula volume was different between the two groups. Moreover, the reading group showed that the volumes of the left fusiform gyrus (corresponding to the well-known visual word form area, VWFA), the anterior part of the left inferior occipital gyrus and the left thalamus were significantly modulated by reading performance. This study reinforces the crucial role of the Visual Word Form Area in reading and correlation analyses performed between ROIs volumes suggesting that the VWFA is fully connected with the traditional left-hemispheric language brain network.
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Grégory Simon, Céline Lanoë, Nicolas Poirel, Sandrine Rossi, Amélie Lubin, et al.. Dynamics of the Anatomical Changes That Occur in the Brains of Schoolchildren as They Learn to Read. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (12), pp.e81789. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0081789⟩. ⟨hal-01958840⟩

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