Anatomy is strategy: Skilled reading differences associated with structural connectivity differences in the reading network

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Are there multiple ways to be a skilled reader? To address this longstanding, unresolved question, we hypothesized that individual variability in using semantic information in reading aloud would be associated with neuroanatomical variation in pathways linking semantics and phonology. Left-hemisphere regions of interest for diffusion tensor imaging analysis were defined based on fMRI results, including two regions linked with semantic processing – angular gyrus (AG) and inferior temporal sulcus (ITS) – and two linked with phonological processing – posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG) and posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG). Effects of imageability (a semantic measure) on response times varied widely among individuals and covaried with the volume of pathways through the ITS and pMTG, and through AG and pSTG, partially overlapping the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and the posterior branch of the arcuate fasciculus. These results suggest strategy differences among skilled readers associated with structural variation in the neural reading network.

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