Maternal reading fluency is positively associated with greater functional connectivity between the child’s future reading network and regions related to executive functions and language processing in preschool-age children

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Abstract

The role of the parent or educator in a child’s learning is a key feature in child development. Evidence supports the impact of early language exposure for future language and cognitive abilities and of home reading environment on neural circuits supporting language and reading. As shared parent–child reading is largely contingent on the reading ability of the parent, the aim of the current study was to explore association of parental reading ability on functional connectivity of brain networks involved with reading acquisition in their children.

Twenty-two 4-year-old girls and their mothers participated in the current study. Maternal reading fluency was applied as predictors of functional connectivity analyses of a stories-listening functional MRI task.

Results indicate a positive association between maternal fluency scores and greater functional connectivity between regions in the future reading network and brain regions supporting language and cognitive control in the children.

Maternal reading fluency is important in facilitating development of a child’s reading network. Implications regarding shared reading are discussed, and an extended ecological model for child language and literacy development is proposed.

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