Maternal education as an environmental factor related to reading in children with reading difficulties: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Paige Greenwood, John Hutton, Jonathan Dudley, Mark DiFrancesco, Rola Farah, Mekibib Altaye, Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expanded simple view of reading (SVR) model suggests that word decoding, language comprehension and executive functions are necessary for reading comprehension. Children with reading difficulties (RDs) often have deficits in critical components of reading established in the expanded SVR model and alterations in brain function of reading-related regions. Maternal education could provide children with advantageous educational opportunities or resources that support reading acquisition. The primary goal of this study was to examine the contributions of maternal education to the behavioural and neurobiological correlates of the expanded SVR model. Seventy-two 8- to 12-year-old children with RDs and typical readers (TRs) completed reading, behavioural and an functional magnetic resonance imaging stories-listening task to determine the functional connectivity of the receptive language network to the whole brain in association with maternal education. Higher maternal education was associated with better vocabulary in children with RDs and positive functional connectivity between the receptive language network and regions related to visual processing in children with RDs versus TRs. These data suggest that maternal education supports the ability to comprehend oral language and engagement of neural networks that support imagination/visualization in children with RDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD; PI: Horowitz‐Kraus; 1R01HD086011‐01A1). Additional funds were awarded by the NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD, ‘Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health‐Related Research’, PA‐18‐586 (PI: Horowitz‐Kraus; 1R01HD086011‐01A1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Dyslexia published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • executive functions
  • functional connectivity
  • language processing
  • maternal education
  • narrative comprehension
  • reading difficulties


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