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Poster C18, Thursday, November 9, 10:00 – 11:15 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Literacy Environment Differentially Influences Brain Structural Covariance

Tin Nguyen1, Stephanie Del Tufo1,2, Laurie Cutting1,2,3,4;1Vanderbilt Brain Institute, 2Peabody College of Education and Human Development, 3Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, 4Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science

Socioeconomic status (SES), which includes household income and parental educational and occupational status, predicts children’s success with reading-related skills, such as vocabulary knowledge and phonological sensitivity. In addition to SES, home literacy and school environment also shape the trajectory of children’s academic success. Together, school and home activities compose literacy environments (LE) that may have an impact either simultaneously with or independently from SES to bolster children’s aptitude for reading and/or other academic domains. While previous studies have focused on the influence of SES on the development brain morphology, few studies have comprehensively examined the impact of LE on cortical architecture. Here, we investigated whether LE influenced both global and regional cortical differences by examining various morphology indices, including cortical thickness, surface area, and folding. Cortical folding indices have been found to explain additional genetic and phenotypic variation, beyond other morphological cortical indices such as thickness and surface area. Data were collected from 4th to 9th graders (n = 177; 92 females). Standardized cognitive and reading assessments included the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), and Woodcock Reading Mastery Test (WRMT). Participants’ parents completed questionnaires that captured SES (Hollingshead, 1976) and LE (e.g. if the child was taught with phonics instruction, how often s/he was read to, or if s/he received tutoring). Neuroimaging data were analyzed via an integrated pipeline (FreeSurfer and MATLAB) that reconstructed the images and derived metrics for cortical morphology using the Destrieux atlas (Fischl et al, 2004; Destrieux et al, 2010). Hierarchical linear regression analyses were used to determine the relationship between LE and different cortical features. The first step controlled for possible confounding variables, such as age, gender, and timed single-word reading, and then, SES was entered in the second step. After correcting for these factors and for multiple comparisons, findings revealed that LE influence both global and regional cortical morphology. LE corresponded to differences in cortical thickness in the fronto-temporal reading network hubs. In addition, LE measures were linked to cortical folding in left-lateralized regions of the frontal cortex. These results highlight the impact of LE on cortical thickness and cortical folding in areas that support reading-related skills and executive functioning.

Topic Area: Language Development

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