The relationship between socioeconomic status and white matter microstructure in pre-reading children: A longitudinal investigation

Ola Ozernov-Palchik, Elizabeth S. Norton, Yingying Wang, Sara D. Beach, Jennifer Zuk, Maryanne Wolf, John D.E. Gabrieli, Nadine Gaab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reading is a learned skill crucial for educational attainment. Children from families of lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have poorer reading performance and this gap widens across years of schooling. Reading relies on the orchestration of multiple neural systems integrated via specific white-matter pathways, but there is limited understanding about whether these pathways relate differentially to reading performance depending on SES background. Kindergarten white-matter FA and second-grade reading outcomes were investigated in an SES-diverse sample of 125 children. The three left-hemisphere white-matter tracts most associated with reading, and their right-hemisphere homologs, were examined: arcuate fasciculus (AF), superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). There was a significant and positive association between SES and fractional anisotropy (FA) in the bilateral ILF in kindergarten. SES moderated the association between kindergarten ILF and second grade reading performance, such that it was positive in lower-SES children, but not significant in higher-SES children. These results have implications for understanding the role of the environment in the development of the neural pathways that support reading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-754
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019

Keywords

  • MRI
  • SES
  • brain
  • education
  • fractional anisotropy
  • longitudinal
  • pre-readers
  • reading development
  • white matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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