[PS-1.47] Learning to Read Alters Intrinsic Cortico-Subcortical Cross-Talk in the Low-Level Visual System

Skeide, M. 1 , Kumar, U. 1, 2 , Mishra, R. 1, 2 , Tripathi, V. N. 1, 2 , Guleria, A. 1, 2 , Singh, J. P. 1, 2 , Eisner, F. 1, 3 & Huettig, F. 1, 4

1 Department of Neuropsychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
2 CMBR Lucknow, India
3 Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
4 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Literacy-related learning triggers cognitive adaptation mechanisms manifesting themselves in increased BOLD responses during print processing tasks (Carreiras et al., 2009; Dehaene et al., 2010). It remains elusive, however, if the cortical plasticity effects of reading acquisition also lead to an intrinsic functional reorganization of neural circuits. In a controlled longitudinal intervention study, we taught 21 illiterate adults from Northern India for 6 months how to read Hindi scripts and compared their resting-state fMRI data with those acquired from a sample of 9 illiterates, matched for demographic and socioeconomic variables, that did not undergo such instruction. Degree centrality (Zuo et al., 2012) and voxel-wise functional connectivity analyses (Biswal et al., 1995) revealed intrinsic hemodynamic activity changes driven by literacy in subcortical low-level relay stations of the visual pathway and their functional connections to the occipital cortex. Our results suggest that the visual system of beginning readers goes through fundamental modulations at earlier processing stages than suggested by previous event-related fMRI experiments. These findings add a new dimension to current concepts of the brain basis of reading and raise novel questions regarding the neural origin of developmental dyslexia.