Predicting better performance on a college preparedness test from narrative comprehension at the age of 6 years: An fMRI study

Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, Kenneth Eaton, Rola Farah, Ardag Hajinazarian, Jennifer Vannest, Scott K. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective To investigate whether high performance on college preparedness tests at 18 years of age can be predicted from brain activation patterns during narrative comprehension at 5-7 years of age. Methods In this longitudinal study, functional MRI data during an auditory narrative-comprehension task were acquired from 15 children (5-7 years of age) who also provided their American College Testing (ACT) scores at the age of 18 years. Active voxels during the narrative-comprehension task were correlated with both composite ACT scores and the reading-comprehension component of the exam. Results Higher composite ACT scores and behavioral scores for reading comprehension were positively correlated with greater activation in frontal and anterior brain regions during the narrative-comprehension task. Conclusions Our results suggest that neural circuits supporting higher ACT performance are predictable from a narrative-comprehension task at the age of 5-7 years. This supports a critical role for the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a part of the cingulo-opercular cognitive-control network early in development, as a facilitator for better ACT scores. This study highlights that shared neural circuits that support overall ACT performance and neural circuits that support reading comprehension both rely on neural circuits related to narrative comprehension in childhood, suggesting that interventions involving narrative comprehension should be considered for individuals with reading and other academic difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • American College Test
  • Children
  • Development
  • Functional MRI
  • Narrative comprehension


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