Brain and Behavioral Assessment of Executive Functions for Self-Regulating Levels of Language in Reading Brain

Virginia W. Berninger, Todd L. Richards, Robert D. Abbott

Educational Psychology, Learning Sciences and Human Development, Integrated Brain Imaging Center, Department of Radiology, and Educational Statistics and Measurement, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


This brief research report examines brain-behavioral relationships specific to levels of language in the complex reading brain. The first specific aim was to examine prior findings for significant fMRI connectivity from four seeds (left precuneus, left occipital temporal, left supramarginal, left inferior frontal) for each of four levels of language—subword, word (word-specific spelling and affixed words), syntax (with and without homonym foils or affix foils), and multi-sentence text to identify significant fMRI connectivity (a) unique to the lower level of language when compared to the immediately higher adjacent level of language across subword-word, word-syntax, and syntax-text comparisons; and (b) involving a brain region associated with executive functions. The second specific aim was to correlate the magnitude of that connectivity with standard scores on tests of Focused Attention (D-K EFS Color Word Form Inhibition) and Switching Attention (Wolf & Denckla Rapid Automatic Switching). Seven correlations were significant. Focused Attention was significantly correlated with the word level (word-specific spellings of real words) fMRI task in left cingulum from left inferior frontal seed.  Switching Attention was significantly correlated with the (a) subword level (grapheme-phoneme correspondence) fMRI task in left and right Cerebellum V from left supramarginal seed; (b) the word level (word-specific spelling) fMRI task in right Cerebellum V from left precuneus seed;  (c) the syntax level (with and without homonym foils) fMRI task in right Cerebellum V from left precuneus seed and from left supramarginal seed; and (d) syntax level (with and without affix foils) fMRI task in right Cerebellum V from left precuneus seed. Results are discussed in reference to neuropsychological assessment of supervisory attention (focused and switching) for specific levels of language related to reading acquisition in students with and without language- related specific learning disabilities and self-regulation of the complex reading brain. Journal of Nature and Science (JNSCI), 3(11):e464, 2017



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