Disentangling influences of dyslexia, development, and reading experience on effective brain connectivity in children

Sarah V Di Pietro, David Willinger, Nada Frei, Christina Lutz, Seline Coraj, Chiara Schneider, Philipp Stämpfli, Silvia Brem

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

4 Citations (Scopus)


Altered brain connectivity between regions of the reading network has been associated with reading difficulties. However, it remains unclear whether connectivity differences between children with dyslexia (DYS) and those with typical reading skills (TR) are specific to reading impairments or to reading experience. In this functional MRI study, 132 children (M = 10.06 y, SD = 1.46) performed a phonological lexical decision task. We aimed to disentangle (1) disorder-specific from (2) experience-related differences in effective connectivity and to (3) characterize the development of DYS and TR. We applied dynamic causal modelling to age-matched (ndys = 25, nTR = 35) and reading-level-matched (ndys = 25, nTR = 22) groups. Developmental effects were assessed in beginning and advanced readers (TR: nbeg = 48, nadv = 35, DYS: nbeg = 24, nadv = 25). We show that altered feedback connectivity between the inferior parietal lobule and the visual word form area (VWFA) during print processing can be specifically attributed to reading impairments, because these alterations were found in DYS compared to both the age-matched and reading-level-matched TR. In contrast, feedforward connectivity from the VWFA to parietal and frontal regions characterized experience in TR and increased with age and reading skill. These directed connectivity findings pinpoint disorder-specific and experience-dependent alterations in the brain's reading network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119869
Pages (from-to)119869
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Development
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Dynamic causal modeling (DCM)
  • Effective connectivity
  • Inferior parietal lobule
  • Reading network
  • Visual Word Forma Area (VWFA)
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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