Reading is a cultural invention and has to be learned through explicit instructions, resulting in the utilization of a variety of brain areas that were not designed to read specifically. This presentation will show how brain-imaging technology has been used during the last twenty years to reveal the brain areas that are involved in word processing in typical readers and how these differ in children and adults with dyslexia. The integration of brain function with psycho-educational testing data has contributed to our understanding of the brain-behavioral relationships for skills that support learning to read. We have learned about the neural correlates of successful reading intervention. Recent brain-imaging studies have also revealed sex-specific differences in dyslexia, consistent with Norman Geschwind’s idea that the etiology for dyslexia might be different for males and females. Brain imaging can also play an important role in testing the different theoretical frameworks that have been put forward to explain the etiology of dyslexia. For example, are the deficits reported in visual processing a cause or a consequence of dyslexia? The answers to these questions are critical in understanding the etiology of this common learning disability.
Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Director of the Center for the Study of Learning,
Georgetown University Medical Center
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