Socioeconomic background linked to reading improvement / Le milieu socioéconomique de l'enfant lié à sa progression en lecture

(see related scientific article below / voir l'article scientifique correspondant plus bas)

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Socioeconomic background linked to reading improvement

Dyslexic children from lower-income families benefit more from summer reading intervention

Neuroscientists have found that dyslexic children from lower income families responded much better to a summer reading program than children from a higher socioeconomic background. Using MRI data, the team also found anatomical changes in the brains of children whose reading abilities improved -- in particular, a thickening of the cortex in parts of the brain known to be involved in reading.

Des neuroscientifiques ont trouvé que des enfants dyslexiques issus de milieux socioéconomiques désavantagés amélioraient davantage leurs compétences en lecture lors de programmes d'été que leurs pairs issus de milieux avantagés. À l'aide de l'IRM, cette équipe de chercheurs a également trouvé des changements anatomiques dans le cerveau des enfants dont les compétences en lecture s'étaient améliorées - en particulier, un épaississement du cortex dans les régions cérébrales reconnues pour être impliquées lors de la lecture.


Socioeconomic status and reading disability: Neuroanatomy and plasticity in response to intervention

Romeo, R. R., Christodoulou, J. A., Halverson, K. K., Murtagh, J., Cyr, A. B., Schimmel, C., ... & Gabrieli, J. D. (2017). Socioeconomic Status and Reading Disability: Neuroanatomy and Plasticity in Response to Intervention. Cerebral Cortex, 1-16. (Advanced Online Publication)

DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhx131


Although reading disability (RD) and socioeconomic status (SES) are independently associated with variation in reading ability and brain structure/function, the joint influence of SES and RD on neuroanatomy and/or response to intervention is unknown. In total, 65 children with RD (ages 6–9) with diverse SES were assigned to an intensive, 6-week summer reading intervention (n = 40) or to a waiting-list control group (n = 25). Before and after, all children completed standardized reading assessments and magnetic resonance imaging to measure cortical thickness. At baseline, higher SES correlated with greater vocabulary and greater cortical thickness in bilateral perisylvian and supramarginal regions—especially in left pars opercularis. Within the intervention group, lower SES was associated with both greater reading improvement and greater cortical thickening across broad, bilateral occipitotemporal and temporoparietal regions following the intervention. Additionally, treatment responders (n = 20), compared with treatment nonresponders (n = 19), exhibited significantly greater cortical thickening within similar regions. The waiting control and nonresponder groups exhibited developmentally typical, nonsignificant cortical thinning during this time period. These findings indicate that effective summer reading intervention is coupled with cortical growth, and is especially beneficial for children with RD who come from lower-SES home environments.