The neural correlates of reading impairment in adults with developmental dyslexia
: evidence from fMRI between group analyses and an fMRI multiple-case study

  • Agnieszka Reid

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


The goal of this project was to investigate the neural correlates of reading impairment in dyslexia as hypothesised by the main theories – the phonological deficit, visual magnocellular deficit and cerebellar deficit theories, with emphasis on individual differences. This research took a novel approach by: 1) contrasting the predictions in one sample of participants with dyslexia (DPs); 2) using a multiple-case study (and between-group comparisons) to investigate differences in BOLD between each DP and the controls (CPs); 3) demonstrating a possible relationship between reading impairment and its hypothesised neural correlates by using fMRI and a reading task. The multiple-case study revealed that the neural correlates of reading in dyslexia in all cases are not in agreement with the predictions of a single theory. The results show striking individual differences - even, where the neural correlates of reading in two DPs are consistent with the same theory, the areas can differ. A DP can exhibit under-engagement in an area in word, but not in pseudoword reading and vice versa, demonstrating that underactivation in that area cannot be interpreted as a ‘developmental lesion’. Additional analyses revealed complex results. Within-group analyses between behavioural measures and BOLD showed correlations in the predicted regions, areas outside ROI, and lack of correlations in some predicted areas. Comparisons of subgroups which differed on Orthography Composite supported the MDT, but only for Words. The results suggest that phonological scores are not a sufficient predictor of the under-engagement of phonological areas during reading. DPs and CPs exhibited correlations between Purdue Pegboard Composite and BOLD in cerebellar areas only for Pseudowords. Future research into reading in dyslexia should use a more holistic approach, involving genetic and environmental factors, gene by environment interaction, and comorbidity with other disorders. It is argued that multidisciplinary research, within the multiple-deficit model holds significant promise here.
Date of Award28 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJoel Talcott (Supervisor)


  • Dyslexia
  • fMRI
  • multiple-case study
  • reading
  • comorbidity

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