Development of tract-specific white matter pathways during early reading development in at-risk children and typical controls

Yingying Wang, Meaghan V. Mauer, Talia Raney, Barbara Peysakhovich, Bryce L.C. Becker, Danielle D. Sliva, Nadine Gaab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Developmental dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a strong genetic basis. Previous studies observed white matter alterations in the left posterior brain regions in adults and school-age children with dyslexia. However, no study yet has examined the development of tract-specific white matter pathways from the pre-reading to the fluent reading stage in children at familial risk for dyslexia (FHD+) versus controls (FHD-). This studyexamined white matter integrityatpre-reading, beginning, and fluent reading stages cross-sectionally (n=78) and longitudinally (n =45) using an automated fiber-tract quantification method. Our findings depict white matter alterations and atypical lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus at the pre-reading stage in FHD+ versus FHD-children. Moreover, we demonstrate faster white matter development in subsequent good versus poor readers and a positive association between white matter maturation and reading development using a longitudinal design. Additionally, the combination of white matter maturation, familial risk, and psychometric measures best predicted later reading abilities. Furthermore, within FHD+ children, subsequent good readers exhibited faster white matter development in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus compared with subsequent poor readers, suggesting a compensatory mechanism. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of white matter pathway maturation in the development of typical and atypical reading skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2469-2485
Number of pages17
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Familial risk
  • Longitudinal
  • Tractography
  • White matter development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of tract-specific white matter pathways during early reading development in at-risk children and typical controls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this