With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, especially functional MRI (fMRI), studies have mapped brain regions that are associated with good and poor reading, most centrally a region within the left occipito-temporal/fusiform region (L-OT/F) often referred to as the visual word form area (VWFA). Despite an abundance of fMRI studies of the putative VWFA, research about its structural connectivity has just started. Provided that the putative VWFA may be connected to distributed regions in the brain, it remains unclear how this network is engaged in constituting a well-tuned reading circuitry in the brain. Here we used diffusion MRI to study the structural connectivity patterns of the putative VWFA and surrounding areas within the L-OT/F in children with typically developing (TD) reading ability and with word recognition deficits (WRD; sometimes referred to as dyslexia). We found that L-OT/F connectivity varied along a posterior-anterior gradient, with specific structural connectivity patterns related to reading ability in the ROIs centered upon the putative VWFA. Findings suggest that the architecture of the putative VWFA connectivity is fundamentally different between TD and WRD, with TD showing greater connectivity to linguistic regions than WRD, and WRD showing greater connectivity to visual and parahippocampal regions than TD. Findings thus reveal clear structural abnormalities underlying the functional abnormalities in the putative VWFA in WRD.
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