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Developing neural specialization for print and dyslexia

English title Developing neural specialization for print and dyslexia
Applicant Brandeis Daniel
Number 108130
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrischer Dienst Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Neurology, Psychiatry
Start/End 01.04.2005 - 31.03.2009
Approved amount 249'133.00
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Keywords (7)

Dyslexia; reading ; development; visual expertise; N1; MMN; EEG

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Aims: Developmental dyslexia is a specific disorder of reading acquisition with a marked familial risk. Functional brain mapping reveals a visual specialization (“tuning”) for print within 0.2s in occipitotemporal regions which is already prominent in beginning readers [1; 2] but impaired in dyslexia. We examine how this initial print specialization deficit of dyslexic children develops further, using functional brain mapping with EEG (Electroencephalogram) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). A core question is whether reduced visual print specialization remains a diagnostic neural marker of dyslexia, and how it relates to other (phonological and semantic) markers.Context and Impact: The study will identify the most reliable diagnostic markers of Dyslexia at different developmental stages. This is of definite practical relevance given the high prevalence and social costs along with the psychological suffering associated with Dyslexia. The work will also identify neural trajectories of good vs. poor outcome in a familial risk group, which is important for efficient targeted diagnosis and prevention, and will help to clarify general developmental principles of neural specialization and expertise.Methods: Children who already participated in kindergarten and 2nd grade are followed up in 5th grade. After assessing reading and spelling abilities, EEG maps are recorded while the children perform auditory processing and reading tests. In a separate session, MRI (structural 3D, fMRI in the visual tests) is performed. The same protocol is run with a new sample of children from 2nd to 5th grade to increase sample size and to compare 5th graders with dyslexia to younger children with similar reading ability.Preliminary results suggest that neural markers of dyslexia change with development. Visual tuning for print is more impaired in dyslexic children at the beginning of reading acquisition than in 5th grade, where neural impairments become more prominent in explicit reading tasks with high phonological or semantic demands. These results suggest that visual tuning plays an important role for dyslexia at the beginning of reading acquisition, but later other language related brain functions are more affected in dyslexia.1.Brem, S., Bucher, K., Halder, P., Summers, P., Dietrich, T., Martin, E., & Brandeis, D. (2006). Evidence for developmental changes in the visual word processing network beyond adolescence. Neuroimage, 29(3), 822-837.2.Maurer, U., Brem, S., Kranz, F., Bucher, K., Benz, R., Halder, P., Steinhausen, H. C., & Brandeis, D. (2006). Coarse neural tuning for print peaks when children learn to read. Neuroimage, 33(2), 749-758.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
125407 Neural print tuning and persistence of dyslexia 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
127115 Common neural mechanisms of working memory and episodic memory in typical and atypical development 01.10.2009 Interdisciplinary projects
59276 Functional brain mapping of reading-induced plasticity in children: word-related neuroelectric activation mapping before and after learning to read 01.05.2000 Project funding (Div. I-III)