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Slide Slam B2

Neural activations during word reading versus story listening predict concurrent and longitudinal reading comprehension

Slide Slam Session B, Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 12:30 - 3:00 pm PDT Log In to set Timezone

Andrea Burgess1,2, Katherine Aboud1,2, Laurie Cutting1,2,3; 1Vanderbilt University, 2Vanderbilt Brain Institute, 3Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

The Simple View of Reading (SVR) posits that word recognition (WR) and language comprehension (LC) abilities are predictors of reading comprehension (RC), together accounting for approximately 60% of the variance in RC scores. Despite these clear behavioral connections, the neural underpinnings of the SVR are not well understood. To elucidate these relationships, we assessed 29 typically developing children for their behavioral RC performance after first (M age = 7.6), second (M age = 8.5), and third (M age = 9.6) grades, and collected fMRI data at baseline. Children completed three task-based fMRI paradigms: (1) one WR task where they viewed short, scrambled phrases (e.g., “field the other”), and (2) two LC tasks where they listened to narrative and expository passages. Compared to rest, all functional tasks showed a variety of language area activity, including most notably overlapping bilateral superior temporal sulcus activity. To investigate how this brain activity predicted within-year RC performance and subsequent growth in RC, we correlated brain activity with first grade RC scores and change in RC scores from second to third grade (while controlling for first grade RC). First-grade behavioral RC was predicted by left angular gyrus activity during the WR task, and RC growth was predicted by left anterior temporal lobe activity during the LC tasks. Consistent with previous behavioral literature, these findings suggest that while the neural basis of early WR is more important for predicting early concurrent behavioral RC outcomes, neural activity associated with LC is more predictive of RC growth. Thus, these findings provide further insights into our understanding of the neural underpinnings of the relationship between word reading, language comprehension, and reading comprehension.

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