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Keywords:

  • language;
  • DTI;
  • tractography;
  • reading;
  • arcuate fasciculus;
  • superior longitudinal fasciculus;
  • MRI;
  • gender

Abstract

As Chinese reading engages a different neural network from alphabetic language reading, we investigate whether leftward lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus (AF), as observed in the Western population, is also present in the Chinese population and if it does, whether it is associated with better reading ability. Diffusion tensor tractography analysis on 75 Chinese subjects of three age groups (first graders, fourth graders, and college students) showed that 70–83% of them had leftward lateralization of the AF. The pattern of lateralization did not differ significantly among the three groups, suggesting that lateralization of the AF is formed at an early age and before one enters first grade. Among the first graders, who had just started to learn to read, subjects with strongly leftward lateralized AF scored significantly higher than those with other defined lateralization patterns in Chinese (P = 0.001) and English (P = 0.036) reading tasks. This association was not observed among the fourth graders and college students who were experienced Chinese readers. Among the fourth graders, females were found to obtain significantly higher Chinese (P = 0.033) and English reading scores than males (P = 0.002). Our study suggests a differential effect of leftward lateralization of the AF on reading ability at different stages of reading development in the Chinese population. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.