Variations in the neurobiology of reading in children and adolescents born full term and preterm

Katherine E. Travis, Michal Ben-Shachar, Nathaniel J. Myall, Heidi M. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Diffusion properties of white matter tracts have been associated with individual differences in reading. Individuals born preterm are at risk of injury to white matter. In this study we compared the associations between diffusion properties of white matter and reading skills in children and adolescents born full term and preterm. 45 participants, aged 9-17 years, included 26 preterms (born < 36 weeks' gestation) and 19 full-terms. Tract fractional anisotropy (FA) profiles were generated for five bilateral white matter tracts previously associated with reading: anterior superior longitudinal fasciculus (aSLF), arcuate fasciculus (Arc), corticospinal tract (CST), uncinate fasciculus (UF) and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). Mean scores on reading for the two groups were in the normal range and were not statistically different. In both groups, FA was associated with measures of single word reading and comprehension in the aSLF, AF, CST, and UF. However, correlations were negative in the full term group and positive in the preterm group. These results demonstrate variations in the neurobiology of reading in children born full term and preterm despite comparable reading skills. Findings suggest that efficient information exchange required for strong reading abilities may be accomplished via a different balance of neurobiological mechanisms in different groups of readers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.


  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI)
  • Prematurity
  • Reading
  • White matter


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