BACKGROUND - A range of neurobiological investigations shows a failure of left hemisphere posterior brain systems to function properly during reading in children and adults with reading disabilities. Such evidence of a disruption in the normal reading pathways provides a neurobiological target for reading interventions. In this study, we hypothesized that the provision of an evidence-based, phonologically mediated reading intervention would improve reading fluency and the development of the fast-paced occipitotemporal systems serving skilled reading.
METHODS - Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to study the effects of a phonologically based reading intervention on brain organization and reading fluency in 77 children aged 6.1-9.4 years (49 with reading disability and 28 control subjects). Children comprised three experimental groups: experimental intervention (n = 37), community intervention (n = 12), and community control subjects (n = 28).
RESULTS - Immediately after the year-long intervention, children taught with the experimental intervention had made significant gains in reading fluency and demonstrated increased activation in left hemisphere regions, including the inferior frontal gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus; 1 year after the experimental intervention had ended these children were activating bilateral inferior frontal gyri and left superior temporal and occipitotemporal regions.
CONCLUSIONS - These data indicate that the nature of the remedial educational intervention is critical to successful outcomes in children with reading disabilities and that the use of an evidence-based phonologic reading intervention facilitates the development of those fast-paced neural systems that underlie skilled reading.