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Poster B12, Wednesday, November 8, 3:00 – 4:15 pm, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Mental Self-Government of Brain’s Multi-Leveled Reading and Writing Systems: Before and After Multi-Leveled Language Instruction

Todd Richards1, Kevin Yagle1, Daniel Peterson1, Robert Abbott1, Kathleen Nielsen1, Virginia Berninger1;1University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Introduction: The research aim was to understand mental self-government of the complex reading and writing brain. Methods: Before and after participating in computerized instruction aimed at multiple levels of language, 39 students in grades 4 to 9, who were of average or higher verbal cognitive ability and varied along a continuum of reading and writing skills, were given clinical measures of working memory supporting language learning, which had been validated in programmatic genetics and imaging research, and brain imaged. FMRI connectivity was measured using a Philips 3T scanner during six leveled reading tasks (subword—letters and sounds, word--correct spellings and homonyms, word— words with and without true affixes, syntax—with and without homonym foils, syntax—with and without affix foils, and multi-sentence text and three writing tasks—handwriting, spelling plus handwriting, and cognitive idea generating and planning for composing. The Brain Connectivity Toolbox was used to generate clustering coefficients using a correlation matrix generated from 68 different cortical brain regions selected on basis of prior research showing cingulo-operculum network involvement in adaptive control during language learning. After controlling for multiple comparisons, significant fMRI connectivity clustering coefficients were identified in 8 brain regions bilaterally (authors, in press) and correlated, controlling for multiple comparisons, with clinical measures of working memory components and BASC Adaptivity. The eight bilateral regions with significant clustering coefficients were cingulate gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, insula, cingulum (cingulate gyrus), and cingulum (hippocampus). Working memory measures were phonological coding, orthographic coding, and morphological coding (storage and processing of word forms); syntactic coding; the phonological loop and orthographic loops for integrating internal language codes with motor systems for interacting with external world through mouth or hand/fingers, respectively; and supervisory attention for focused and switching attention. Results and Discussion: 1) Each working memory measure correlated with at least one brain region with a high clustering coefficient, but the working memory measure-brain region correlations varied with specific reading or writing tasks and level of written language.  2) The BASC Adaptivity parent ratings, used to assess behaviorally the adaptive control function of the cingulo-operculum network, significantly correlated with graph clustering coefficients in right middle frontal gyrus on the grapheme-phoneme task, right cingulate gyrus on the sentence + or – homonym foil task, and left cingulate gyrus on the alphabet writing task at time 1 (not given at time 2). 3) After intervention, fewer brain-working memory correlations were significant, suggesting that mental government became more efficient. 4) Prior to instruction, only one correlation involved a loop, but after instruction, eight involved loops. After instruction, on reading tasks, only orthographic loop or phonological loop correlated with brain regions with significant clustering coefficients, and on writing tasks, only focused attention, morphological coding, or orthographic loop did. Nature of mental self-government may change in response to instruction. 5) At both Times 1 and 2, more correlations with brain regions involved orthographic and morphological coding than phonological coding. All three codes are needed to read and spell English morphophonemic orthography.

Topic Area: Writing and Spelling

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