Recent reading research implicates executive control regions as sites of difference in struggling readers. However, as studies often employ only reading or language tasks, the extent of deviation in control engagement in children with reading difficulties is not known. The current study investigated activation in reading and executive control brain regions during both a sentence comprehension task and a nonlexical inhibitory control task in third- to fifth-grade children with and without reading difficulties. The authors employed both categorical (group-based) and individual difference approaches to relate reading ability to brain activity. During sentence comprehension, struggling readers had less activation in the left posterior temporal cortex, previously implicated in language, semantic, and reading research. Greater negative activity (relative to fixation) during sentence comprehension in a left inferior parietal region from the executive control literature correlated with poorer reading ability. Greater comprehension scores were associated with less dorsal anterior cingulate activity during the sentence comprehension task. Unlike the sentence task, there were no significant differences between struggling and nonstruggling readers for the nonlexical inhibitory control task. Thus, differences in executive control engagement were largely specific to reading, rather than a general control deficit across tasks in children with reading difficulties, informing future intervention research.
Roe, M. A., Martinez, J. E., Mumford, J. A., Taylor, W. P., Cirino, P. T., Fletcher, J. M., . . . Church, J. A. (2018). Control engagement during sentence and inhibition fMRI tasks in children with reading difficulties. Cerebral Cortex, 28(10), 3697–3710. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhy170