MRI volumetric analysis of the Anterior Cingulate in families with and without a reading disorder
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The current study is the first to demonstrate that structural deficits in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) of the human brain may play a role in reading ability. Recent imaging work has indicated that the ACC is activated by tasks involving modulation of the fronto-temporal networks during language processing tasks and may be involved in anticipatory reactions and response preparation during reading. This study investigated the relationship between ACC volumetric measurements and reading ability in a sample of 68 individuals nested within 24 families with and without reading disorders. This sample allowed for examination of the effect of the volume of the ACC on reading, while controlling for normally occurring fluctuations in the size of the ACC due to heredity and shared environment. Forty-five linear models were conducted in SPSS on all 68 participants using the brain measurements (ACC, ACC with Paracingulate (PaC), and Putamen, separately) as well as control variables (gender, FSIQ, family membership) as predictors of the outcomes variables related to reading achievement (GORT Passage, rate, and accuracy) and reading processes (CTOPP phonological awareness and rapid naming). The use of family membership as a random effect predictor together with the specific brain volume as a predictor allowed for the effect of family on reading outcomes to be accounted for while, explicitly accounting for any relationships that may exist between family and brain volume. Additional sets of measurements, with PaC, were included in the final analyses to address the inconsistent inclusion of this tertiary structure in earlier research. Finally, a control region (putamen) was included to rule out whole brain effects and improve the specificity of the findings. The most significant findings were that the results varied systematically with inclusion or exclusion of the PaC. Measurements including the PaC were statistically significant for reading achievement for the left side of the ACC as expected. However, for the ACC volume without PaC, it was the right side that was related to reading measures. Neither set of measurements of the ACC were predictive of group membership. The current study supported a role for the ACC in reading and suggests a standardized method for inclusion of the PaC in the volumetric analysis of the ACC.