Disrupted left fusiform response to print in beginning kindergartners is associated with subsequent reading

T. M. Centanni*, E. S. Norton, O. Ozernov-Palchik, A. Park, S. D. Beach, K. Halverson, N. Gaab, J. D.E. Gabrieli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Dyslexia is a common neurobiological disorder in which a child fails to acquire typical word reading skills despite adequate opportunity and intelligence. The visual word form area (VWFA) is a region within the left fusiform gyrus that specializes for print over the course of reading acquisition and is often hypoactivated in individuals with dyslexia. It is currently unknown whether atypicalities in this brain region are already present in kindergarten children who will subsequently develop dyslexia. Here, we measured fMRI activation in response to letters and false fonts in bilateral fusiform gyrus in children with and without risk for dyslexia (defined by family history or low scores on assessments of pre-reading skills, such as phonological awareness). We then followed these children longitudinally through the end of second grade to evaluate whether brain activation patterns in kindergarten were related to second-grade reading outcomes. Compared to typical readers who exhibited no risk factors for reading impairment in kindergarten, there was significant hypoactivation to both letters and false-fonts in the left fusiform gyrus in at-risk children who subsequently developed reading impairment, but not in at-risk children who developed typical reading skills. There were no significant differences in letter- or false-font responses in the right fusiform gyrus among the groups. The finding that hypoactivation to print in the VWFA is present in children who subsequently develop reading impairment even prior to the onset of formal reading instruction suggests that atypical responses to print play an early role in the development of reading impairments such as dyslexia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101715
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2019


  • Diagnosis
  • Dyslexia
  • Reading impairment
  • Reading outcomes
  • VWFA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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