October 20, 2020

Distinct neural substrates of individual differences in components of reading comprehension in adults with or without dyslexia

Reading comprehension is a complex task that depends on multiple cognitive and linguistic processes. According to the updated Simple View of Reading framework, in adults, individual variation in reading comprehension can be largely explained by combined variance in three component abilities: (1) decoding accuracy, (2) fluency, and (3) language comprehension. Here we asked whether the neural correlates of the three components are different in adults with dyslexia as compared to typically-reading adults and whether the relative contribution of these correlates to reading comprehension is similar in the two groups. We employed a novel naturalistic fMRI reading task to identify the neural correlates of individual differences in the three components using whole-brain and literature-driven regions-of-interest approaches. Across all participants, as predicted by the simple view framework, we found distinct patterns of associations with linguistic and domain-general regions for the three components, and that the left-hemispheric neural correlates of language comprehension in the angular and posterior temporal gyri made the largest contributions to explaining out-of-scanner reading comprehension performance. These patterns differed between the two groups. In typical readers, better fluency was associated with greater activation of left occipitotemporal regions, better comprehension with lesser activation in prefrontal and posterior parietal regions, and there were no significant associations with decoding. In adults with dyslexia, better fluency was associated with greater activation of bilateral inferior parietal regions, better comprehension was associated with greater activation in some prefrontal clusters and lower in others, and better decoding skills were associated with lesser activation of bilateral prefrontal and posterior parietal regions. Extending the behavioral findings of skill-level differences in the relative contribution of the three components to reading comprehension, the relative contributions of the neural correlates to reading comprehension differed based on dyslexia status. These findings reveal some of the neural correlates of individual differences in the three components and the underlying mechanisms of reading comprehension deficits in adults with dyslexia.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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