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Talks on neural basis of reading, MRC-CBU

When Sep 23, 2013
from 02:30 PM to 05:00 PM
Where MRC-CBU, Chaucer Rd. Cambridge
Contact Name
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On Monday 23rd September we are lucky enough to have Michal Ben-Shachar from the University of Bar-Ilan, Israel, and William Graves from Rutgers University, US, visiting the MRC CBU and giving talks.

Both investigate the neural basis of reading and reading development using novel imaging methods, and I’m sure their talks will be of interest to those outside of the field of reading and language.

Below are preliminary abstracts for their talks and links to their webpages.

We will start at 14:30 and end around 16:30 or 17:00, and will then go for drinks and dinner at a venue TBC!

Talks will be either in the seminar room or lecture theatre depending on demand.

Michal Ben-Shachar

Developmental change in cortical sensitivity to print and supporting white matter circuits

Learning to read involves exposure to large amounts of print during childhood. How does this environmental transition affect cortical circuits for visual perception and language processing? I will present data from a longitudinal study of typically developing school-age children, in which we combined fMRI, DTI and cognitive assessment of reading-related skills, to assess change in the developing reading pathways. The results indicate the emergence of enhanced cortical sensitivity to written words between the ages of 7-12. At the same time, changes in structural connectivity along specific long-range pathways are predictive of children’s reading skill. We will discuss the contribution of distinct pathways to different aspects of reading in the developing brain.


William Graves

Individual differences in the neural reading network: Contributions of semantics and performance

Under what conditions are the neural bases of form-meaning links in reading clearly established? What impact might individual differences have? Words differ from well-formed nonwords in that only words have meaning. In fMRI, activated areas for words compared to nonwords should be involved in semantics. However, lexical decision for words is typically faster and more accurate than for nonwords. When this performance profile is partially reversed, we show the neural pattern to also be reversed. We then present a neuroimaging-genetics approach to reading that might offer a way forward in disentangling neural systems sensitive to information-processing or performance differences.