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Poster C158

Investigating the Neural Underpinnings of Math and Reading Across the Lifespan

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Hillary Mastarciyan1, Ju-Chi Yu3, Devin Sodums2, Brian Levine2,4,5, Moriah Sokolowski1,2; 1Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, ON, Canada, 2Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, ON, Canada, 3Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada, 4Department of Psychology, Univeristy of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, 5Department of Medicine [Neurology], University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Math and reading are important skills typically learned during childhood; a period characterized by well-documented changes in large-scale brain organization. Previous studies exploring the neural basis of academic skills focus on how activation within individual brain regions relate to math or reading ability. While this approach provides significant insights into the neural underpinnings of early academic skills, it may underestimate the influence of whole brain network organization. The current study investigates the association between network level functional organization of the whole brain and individual differences in reading and math across the lifespan. Participants include 403 adults and 85 children (age range; 6-85 years) from the enhanced Nathan Kline Institute-Rockland Data Sample (NKI-RS). Reading and math ability were measured using the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-IIA), a standard assessment used to measure academic achievement. Whole-brain network organization, measured by the strength of within-network versus between-network connections (i.e., network segregation), was calculated using functional connectivity matrices from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. Multivariate analyses were used to investigate the association between network segregation, across 7 brain networks, and individual differences in math and reading ability, controlling for age. Results revealed that reading ability correlates with greater network segregation in visual, default and frontoparietal networks. Furthermore, math ability correlates with greater network segregation of the limbic system from the rest of the brain. Additional analyses unravel age-specific associations between academic achievement and network segregation. These findings highlight that functional brain organization contributes to individual differences in academic learning across the lifespan.

Topic Area: THINKING: Development & aging


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