Reading skill and structural brain development

Suzanne M. Houston, Catherine Lebel, Tami Katzir, Franklin R. Manis, Eric Kan, Genevieve G. Rodriguez, Elizabeth R. Sowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reading is a learned skill that is likely influenced by both brain maturation and experience. Functional imaging studies have identified brain regions important for skilled reading, but the structural brain changes that co-occur with reading acquisition remain largely unknown. We investigated maturational volume changes in brain reading regions and their association with performance on reading measures. Sixteen typically developing children (5-15 years old, eight boys, mean age of sample=10.06±3.29) received two MRI scans (mean interscan interval=2.19 years), and were administered a battery of cognitive measures. Volume changes between time points in five bilateral cortical regions of interest were measured, and assessed for relationships to three measures of reading. Better baseline performances on measures of word reading, fluency, and rapid naming, independent of age and total cortical gray matter volume change, were associated with volume decrease in the left inferior parietal cortex. Better baseline performance on a rapid naming measure was associated with volume decrease in the left inferior frontal region. These results suggest that children who are better readers, and who perhaps read more than less skilled readers, exhibit different development trajectories in brain reading regions. Understanding relationships between reading performance, reading experience, and brain maturation trajectories may help with the development and evaluation of targeted interventions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)347-352
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2014


  • Brain structure
  • Development
  • Imaging
  • Reading

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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