Poster E61, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Phonics Instruction Mediates the Relationship between Brain Structural Development and Reading Performances
Tin Nguyen1, Stephanie Del Tufo1, Laurie Cutting1; 1Vanderbilt University
Reading ability and the neurobiology underlying reading are assumed to be influenced by reading instruction during early childhood. In order to become fluent readers, children must learn letter-sound correspondences, which is typically taught through phonics instruction. Behaviorally, there is an established relationship between phonics instruction and reading performance, whereby children who receive such instruction (YES-P) later exhibit better reading comprehension and vocabulary knowledge than those who do not (NO-P). Here, we ask if there is a relationship between (1) whether children received phonics instruction when they were learning to read (YEP-P versus NO-P) and (2) later brain (cortical) development (ages 10-14; grades 4-9). We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure and compare the structural brain properties between YES-P (n = 127) and NO-P (n = 33) groups. Age, gender, socio-economic status (SES), handedness, reading, and intracranial volume were controlled but did not differ significantly between groups. All brain regions were analyzed using the Destrieux (2009) atlas. After correcting for multiple comparison with cluster-wise Monte-Carlo simulations (10,000 iterations; p < 0.05), the YES-P group exhibited greater cortical thickness in (1) two major clusters in left frontal and one in postcentral regions and (2) one cluster in right paracentral region. These results offer opportunities to further study the influential effects that receiving phonics instruction in beginning readers imposes on the later link between brain (cognitive/structural) development and reading comprehension.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging