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Slide Slam N9

Examination of the Functional Specificity of the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) and the Intraparietal Sulcus (IPS) in Atypical Reading and Math: A Meta-Analysis

Slide Slam Session N, Thursday, October 7, 2021, 2:30 - 4:30 pm PDT Log In to set Timezone

Amanda Martinez-Lincoln1, Laurie Cutting1, Gavin Price1, Laura Barquero1; 1Vanderbilt University

Introduction: The literature largely supports the specificity of Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) to proficiently identify words during reading (e.g., Cohen et al., 2000) and the Intraparietal Sulcus (IPS) to adequately process numbers during math (e.g., Arsalidou & Taylor, 2010). Yet, it remains unclear whether these areas play a role across other types of tasks, in individuals with learning difficulties. The purpose of this study is to identify consistencies across studies regarding the functional specificity of VWFA for individuals with reading disabilities (RD) and the IPS for individuals with math disabilities (MD), compared to typically developing individuals (TD) individuals. Methods: A systematic search of the literature, utilizing multiple databases, identified 4,505 research items. Items including journal articles, dissertations, and conference proceedings were hand-sorted, using article titles. 557 items were then closely read to determine eligibility, employing the following criteria: 1) represented original research; 2) included at least one measure of functional whole brain imaging; and 3) included at least one group of participants identified with RD or MD. A hand search was also conducted and resulted in the addition of 97 articles for review. This process yielded 118 studies that were double coded. Coordinates that directly compared TD with RD or MD were entered into GingerALE (Brainmap.org). An activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analyses was conducted to examine the specificity of the VWFA and the IPS across studies. The VWFA was defined as a sphere centered at (x = -44, y = -58, z = -15) with a radius equal to 5mm (Jobard et al., 2003; Vigneau et al., 2005) and the IPS was centered at (x = 36, y = -48, z = 48) with a 5mm radius (Sokolowski et al., 2017). Imaging results are reported using a family wise error (FWE) correction of p < .05. Results: Overall, there were more studies that examined RD (n=98) than MD (n=20). The RD studies sampled elementary students to adults; however, the majority of the MD studies included elementary students and included no high school students. Under activation of the VWFA was corroborated in studies that examined children and adults with RD across reading tasks (i.e., reading aloud, rhyming, lexical decision), oral language tasks (e.g., picture naming, picture rhyming task), and other types of tasks (i.e., passive visual motion, motion detection). Overactivation of the IPS was demonstrated in studies that examined children with MD across math tasks (e.g., math facts, calculation, magnitude comparison) and other types of tasks (spatial working memory, reasoning). Conclusion: Preliminary results indicate that the functional activation VWFA was not specific to reading tasks for individuals with RD and the IPS was not exclusive to math tasks for individuals with MD. Instead, the VWFA also exhibited under activation across oral language and motion-related task in children and adults with RD. For children with MD, over activation of the IPS was also displayed in working memory and reasoning tasks. These findings suggest that the functional specificity of the VWFA and the IPS are broadly anomalous for individuals with learning disabilities.

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