Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Learning to read alters cortico-subcortical cross-talk in the visual system of illiterates

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Science Advances  24 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1602612
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602612

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Abstract

Learning to read is known to result in a reorganization of the developing cerebral cortex. In this longitudinal resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study in illiterate adults, we show that only 6 months of literacy training can lead to neuroplastic changes in the mature brain. We observed that literacy-induced neuroplasticity is not confined to the cortex but increases the functional connectivity between the occipital lobe and subcortical areas in the midbrain and the thalamus. Individual rates of connectivity increase were significantly related to the individual decoding skill gains. These findings crucially complement current neurobiological concepts of normal and impaired literacy acquisition.

Keywords
  • reading
  • illiterates
  • dyslexia
  • resting-state fMRI
  • functional connectivity
  • visual system
  • superior colliculus
  • pulvinar nucleus

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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