Temporal-callosal pathway diffusivity predicts phonological skills in children

Robert F. Dougherty, Michal Ben-Shachar, Gayle K. Deutsch, Arvel Hernandez, Glenn R. Fox, Brian A. Wandell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


The development of skilled reading requires efficient communication between distributed brain regions. By using diffusion tensor imaging, we assessed the interhemispheric connections in a group of children with a wide range of reading abilities. We segmented the callosal fibers into regions based on their likely cortical projection zones, and we measured diffusion properties in these segmented regions. Phonological awareness (a key factor in reading acquisition) was positively correlated with diffusivity perpendicular to the main axis of the callosal fibers that connect the temporal lobes. These results could be explained by several physiological properties. For example, good readers may have fewer but larger axons connecting left and right temporal lobes, or their axon membranes in these regions may be more permeable than the membranes of poor readers. These measurements are consistent with previous work suggesting that good readers have reduced interhemispheric connectivity and are better at processing rapidly changing visual and auditory stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8556-8561
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - 15 May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Corpus callosum
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Reading


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