Variations in the Neurobiology of Reading: Children born Preterm
Professor Heidi Feldman (Ballinger-Swindells Professor of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics,
Thursday, 30 April 2015, 12pm to 1pm
Lecture Theatre B, Experimental Psychology
Hosted by Professor Dorothy Bishop
Reading abilities in the general population are associated with white matter properties of the brain. To determine whether these differences represent a distinct signature of poor reading skills, we decided to study a population of children with a range of reading abilities and different patterns of white matter microstructure than the general population. Children born preterm are important from a epidemiological standpoint because they represent 11% of births in the US and approximately 50% of those born at extremely low gestational age, less than 32 weeks’ gestation, experience developmental delays and disorders, including weaker reading skills than peers born at term. Their adverse outcomes have been attributed to white matter injury and dysmaturity. In this talk, I will review behavioral outcomes of children born preterm, with an emphasis on reading skills, confirming that the children born preterm perform below age-, sex- and SES-matched full term controls. I will then discuss a series of studies that relate reading outcomes to white matter microstructure of the cerebrum and the cerebellum of the brain. The findings demonstrate variations in the neurobiology of reading in this group of children. The significance of these findings for prevention and intervention will be discussed.