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Slide Slam N1

Relating specific dimensions within the home literacy environment to brain reading network structure in second-grade children

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

Tin Q. Nguyen1, Stephanie N. Del Tufo2, Sage E. Pickren1, Laurie E. Cutting1; 1Vanderbilt University, 2University of Delaware

Home literacy environment (HLE) has been shown to predict children’s brain differences and reading performance. This study aimed to investigate the extent to which specific dimensions within the HLE are related to cortical thickness and reading abilities in N = 112 children after second grade (47% girls; m ages = 8.46). Children were assessed for their word recognition and reading comprehension abilities, as well as underwent T1-weighted MRI scans to evaluate the cortical thickness of their brain. Parents were asked to complete an extended HLE questionnaire, which consisted of items from previous parent-rating surveys and behavioral studies. Children’s demographic variables (age, sex, handedness, and school information) and parents’ self-report data (educational attainment and reading history) were included as covariates. Exploratory factor analyses on the extended HLE questionnaire revealed three dimensions: formal activities, such as teaching to read and shared reading; informal activities, including conversational exchange and parent-child communication; and child-initiated activities. Analyses with brain indices showed that the HLE composite scores were related to increased cortical thickness in the brain reading network and prefrontal regions, which in turn explained better reading abilities. Follow-up analyses suggested that specific HLE dimensions mapped onto these regions differently to predict children’s reading abilities: formal activities were related to the inferior frontal, ventrolateral prefrontal, and superior temporal cortices; informal activities were linked to the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex; and child-activities were associated with the dorsolateral prefrontal and superior temporal cortices. These results implicate different brain mechanisms in which specific dimensions within the HLE contribute to children’s reading outcomes.

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