Spoken language proficiency predicts print-speech convergence in beginning readers

Rebecca A. Marks, Ioulia Kovelman, Olga Kepinska, Myriam Oliver, Zhichao Xia, Stephanie L. Haft, Leo Zekelman, Priscilla Duong, Yuuko Uchikoshi, Roeland Hancock, Fumiko Hoeft*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Learning to read transforms the brain, building on children's existing capacities for language and visuospatial processing. In particular, the development of print-speech convergence, or the spatial overlap of neural regions necessary for both auditory and visual language processing, is critical for literacy acquisition. Print-speech convergence is a universal signature of proficient reading, yet the antecedents of this convergence remain unknown. Here we examine the relationship between spoken language proficiency and the emergence of the print-speech network in beginning readers (ages 5–6). Results demonstrate that children's language proficiency, but not their early literacy skill, explains variance in their print-speech neural convergence in kindergarten. Furthermore, print-speech convergence in kindergarten predicts reading abilities one year later. These findings suggest that children's language ability is a core mechanism guiding the neural plasticity for learning to read, and extend theoretical perspectives on language and literacy acquisition across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116021
JournalNeuroimage
Volume201
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brain development
  • Child language
  • Reading acquisition
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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