Rapid and widespread white matter plasticity during an intensive reading intervention
Elizabeth Huber, Patrick M. Donnelly, Ariel Rokem & Jason D. Yeatman
White matter tissue properties are known to correlate with performance across domains ranging from reading to math, to executive function. Here, we use a longitudinal intervention design to examine experience-dependent growth in reading skills and white matter in grade school-aged, struggling readers. Diffusion MRI data were collected at regular intervals during an 8-week, intensive reading intervention. These measurements reveal large-scale changes throughout a collection of white matter tracts, in concert with growth in reading skill. Additionally, we identify tracts whose properties predict reading skill but remain fixed throughout the intervention, suggesting that some anatomical properties stably predict the ease with which a child learns to read, while others dynamically reflect the effects of experience. These results underscore the importance of considering recent experience when interpreting cross-sectional anatomy–behavior correlations. Widespread changes throughout the white matter may be a hallmark of rapid plasticity associated with an intensive learning experience.
Very interesting. The arcuate fasciculus tracts have also been implicated in higher order thinking (Gf) such as in the P-FIT model of intelligence. Also see white paper that implicates the AF in temporal processing “brain clock” timing interventions
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