Multimodal brain features at 3 years of age and their relationship with pre-reading measures 1 year later

Kathryn Y. Manning, Jess E. Reynolds, Xiangyu Long, Alberto Llera, Deborah Dewey, Catherine Lebel

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Pre-reading language skills develop rapidly in early childhood and are related to brain structure and functional architecture in young children prior to formal education. However, the early neurobiological development that supports these skills is not well understood. Here we acquired anatomical, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and resting state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) from 35 children at 3.5 years of age. Children were assessed for pre-reading abilities using the NEPSY-II subtests 1 year later (4.5 years). We applied a data-driven linked independent component analysis (ICA) to explore the shared co-variation of gray and white matter measures. Two sources of structural variation at 3.5 years of age demonstrated relationships with Speeded Naming scores at 4.5 years of age. The first imaging component involved volumetric variability in reading-related cortical regions alongside microstructural features of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). The second component was dominated by cortical volumetric variations within the cerebellum and visual association area. In a subset of children with rs-fMRI data, we evaluated the inter-network functional connectivity of the left-lateralized fronto-parietal language network (FPL) and its relationship with pre-reading measures. Higher functional connectivity between the FPL and the default mode and visual networks at 3.5 years significantly predicted better Phonological Processing scores at 4.5 years. Together, these results suggest that the integration of functional networks, as well as the co-development of white and gray matter brain structures in early childhood, support the emergence of pre-reading measures in preschool children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number965602
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2022


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