A functioning writing and reading brain requires a system of language-related neural components to be well connected and integrated. The long term goal of Project III is to understand neural substrates responsible for the writing/reading brain in children with learning disability. A major component of this project is to measure treatment effects on 3 specific learning disabilities in written language (SLDs-WL). Project III will identify brain activation and connectivity differences among three contrasting groups of writing and/or reading disabilities and normal reading and writing controls identified and given special instruction in Project I before and after intervention in first year they participate to assess the brain's immediate RTI and follow-up RTI. The 3 SLDs-WL differ in whether their impairment is in (a) handwriting only, (b) word- spelling and reading for real or pseudowords, (c) written composition/reading comprehension. We will measure 1) language-related brain activation and functional connectivity using functional MRI, and 2) language-related structural brain connectivity and fiber tractography using diffusion tensor imaging. Real-time eye tracking will be used to correlate eye movements with the functional MRI to track focus of attention because SLDs-WL are associated with problems in supervisory attention (executive functions). The proposed project will evaluate whether (a) instruction aimed at the language and working memory problems can fully normalize functional connectivity of brain on tasks at 3 levels of language-subword, word, and text-corresponding to the impairment in each SLD-WL (b) if so, whether the normalized connectivity remains at long term follow-up two years later when their brains are re-imaged;(c) if not, whether the structural connectivity of the white fiber tracts of arcuate fasciculus differentiate those with language comprehension problems and other SLD- WL and control groups and white fiber tracts in the superior longitudinal fasciculus differentiate those with impaired handwriting from the other SLD-WL groups structurally and in response to specialized intervention.

Public Health Relevance

This research project is relevant to human health because new treatment techniques will be tested using brain imaging which could lead to better ways to treat and diagnose children with learning disabilities (dyslexia and dysgraphia).

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H)
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University of Washington
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Northey, Mary; McCutchen, Deborah; Sanders, Elizabeth A (2016) Contributions of Morphological Skill to Children's Essay Writing. Read Writ 29:47-68
Abbott, Robert D; Fayol, Michel; Zorman, Michel et al. (2016) Relationships of French and English Morphophonemic Orthographies to Word Reading, Spelling, and Reading Comprehension during Early and Middle Childhood. Can J Sch Psychol 31:305-321
Askren, Mary K; McAllister-Day, Trevor K; Koh, Natalie et al. (2016) Using Make for Reproducible and Parallel Neuroimaging Workflow and Quality-Assurance. Front Neuroinform 10:2
Richards, Todd; Abbott, Robert D; Berninger, Virginia W (2016) Relationships between Presence or Absence of ADHD and fMRI Connectivity Writing Tasks in Children with Dysgraphia. J Nat Sci 2:
Davidson, Matt; Berninger, Virginia (2016) Informative, Compare and Contrast, and Persuasive Essay Composing of Fifth and Seventh Graders: Not All Essay Writing Is the Same. J Psychoeduc Assess 34:311-321
Berninger, Virginia; Abbott, Robert; Cook, Clayton R et al. (2016) Relationships of Attention and Executive Functions to Oral Language, Reading, and Writing Skills and Systems in Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence. J Learn Disabil :
Nielsen, Kathleen; Abbott, Robert; Griffin, Whitney et al. (2016) Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Assessment for Dyslexia in Adolescents and Young Adults. Learn Disabil (Pittsbg) 21:38-56
Alstad, Zachary; Sanders, Elizabeth; Abbott, Robert D et al. (2015) Modes of Alphabet Letter Production during Middle Childhood and Adolescence: Interrelationships with Each Other and Other Writing Skills. J Writ Res 6:199-231
Berninger, Virginia W; Richards, Todd; Abbott, Robert D (2015) Differential Diagnosis of Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, and OWL LD: Behavioral and Neuroimaging Evidence. Read Writ 28:1119-1153
Del Campo, Roxana; Buchanan, William R; Abbott, Robert D et al. (2015) Levels of Phonology Related to Reading and Writing in Middle Childhood. Read Writ 28:183-198

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