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Poster D19

Brain-Behavior Correlates of Working Memory in Typical Reading and Dyslexia

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Hanna Thesken1 (, Rebecca A. Marks1, Adriana M. Azor2, Karolina Wade1, Rachel T. Norton2, John D. E. Gabrieli1, Joanna A. Christodoulou2; 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2MGH Institute of Health Professions

Working memory (WM) is essential for reading and often an area of challenge among readers with dyslexia. Prior research with typically developing children (TD) found that verbal and spatial WM were supported by lateralized neural mechanisms (Nagel et al. 2013). In the context of literacy, verbal WM may be more closely associated with reading (Giofre et al., 2018), yet the brain bases of spatial versus verbal WM in dyslexia remain largely unexplored. This study directly compares verbal and visuospatial WM mechanisms in children with and without dyslexia. Method. Participants were children with typical reading skills (n = 30, Mage = 9.5, SD = 1.2) and dyslexia (n = 26, Mage = 10.6, SD = 1.2). During fMRI, children completed a WM task with a verbal condition and a spatial condition. Results. The two groups did not differ significantly in their visuospatial task accuracy, but did differ marginally in verbal WM (TD > DYS). At the whole group level, both the verbal and spatial conditions engaged bilateral inferior/superior parietal cortex and middle/superior frontal gyrus, consistent with prior literature. Comparison of verbal and spatial conditions revealed greater activation for verbal WM in left occipito-temporal regions associated with print processing. Differences emerged in children with and without dyslexia. Children with dyslexia did not exhibit significantly different activation patterns in the verbal and spatial conditions, in contrast to TD readers. These results may have implications for the roles of verbal and visuospatial WM processes in reading (dis)ability.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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