July 25, 2016 12:30 - 14:00

Literacy acquisition drives hemispheric lateralization of reading

[Speaker] Eisner, Frank:1
[Co-author] Kumar, Uttam:2, Mishra, Ramesh K:3, Tripathi, Viveka Nand:4, Guleria, Anupam:2, Singh, Jay Prakash:4, Huettig, Falk:5
1:Radboud University (Netherlands), 2:CMBR Lucknow (India), 3:University of Hyderabad (India), 4:University of Allahabad (India), 5:Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Netherlands)

Reading functions are typically lateralized to the left cerebral hemisphere, whereas bilateral processing or rightward asymmetries have previously been associated with developmental dyslexia. However, it is unclear at present to what extent a lack of left-lateralisation reflects differences in reading ability. In this study, a group of illiterate adults in rural India participated in a literacy training program over six months; fMRI measures during reading tasks were obtained before and after training. This group was matched to an illiterate no-training group and to low- and highly-literate control groups (total N=90). Reading ability was strongly correlated with left-lateralized processing along the dorsal and ventral streams for text and false fonts, but not for other types of visual stimuli, in a cross-sectional analysis before training. Furthermore, training-related changes in the lateralization of responses to written stimuli provide causal evidence that the degree of hemispheric asymmetry is related to reading ability.
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