Anomalous gray matter patterns in specific reading comprehension deficit are independent of dyslexia

Stephen Bailey, Fumiko Hoeft, Katherine Aboud, Laurie Cutting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Specific reading comprehension deficit (SRCD) affects up to 10 % of all children. SRCD is distinct from dyslexia (DYS) in that individuals with SRCD show poor comprehension despite adequate decoding skills. Despite its prevalence and considerable behavioral research, there is not yet a unified cognitive profile of SRCD. While its neuroanatomical basis is unknown, SRCD could be anomalous in regions subserving their commonly reported cognitive weaknesses in semantic processing or executive function. Here we investigated, for the first time, patterns of gray matter volume difference in SRCD as compared to DYS and typical developing (TD) adolescent readers (N = 41). A linear support vector machine algorithm was applied to whole brain gray matter volumes generated through voxel-based morphometry. As expected, DYS differed significantly from TD in a pattern that included features from left fusiform and supramarginal gyri (DYS vs. TD: 80.0 %, p <0.01). SRCD was well differentiated not only from TD (92.5 %, p <0.001) but also from DYS (88.0 %, p <0.001). Of particular interest were findings of reduced gray matter volume in right frontal areas that were also supported by univariate analysis. These areas are thought to subserve executive processes relevant for reading, such as monitoring and manipulating mental representations. Thus, preliminary analyses suggest that SRCD readers possess a distinct neural profile compared to both TD and DYS readers and that these differences might be linked to domain-general abilities. This work provides a foundation for further investigation into variants of reading disability beyond DYS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of Dyslexia
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 20 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Multivariate pattern analysis
  • Reading skill
  • Specific reading comprehension deficit
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Education


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