Alterations in white matter pathways underlying phonological and morphological processing in Chinese developmental dyslexia
Abstract Chinese is a logographic language that is different from alphabetic languages in visual and semantic complexity. Thus far, it is still unclear whether Chinese children with dyslexia show similar disruption of white matter pathways as in alphabetic languages. The present study focused on the alteration of white matter pathways in Chinese children with dyslexia. Using diffusion tensor imaging tractography, the bilateral arcuate fasciculus (AF-anterior, AF-posterior and AF-direct segments), inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) and inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) were delineated in each individual’s native space. Compared with age-matched controls, Chinese children with dyslexia showed reduced fractional anisotropy in the left AF-direct and the left ILF. Further regression analyses revealed a functional dissociation between the left AF-direct and the left ILF. The AF-direct tract integrity was associated with phonological processing skill, an ability important for reading in all writing systems, while the ILF integrity was associated with morphological processing skill, an ability more strongly recruited for Chinese reading. In conclusion, the double disruption locus in Chinese children with dyslexia, and the functional dissociation between dorsal and ventral pathways reflect both universal and specific properties of reading in Chinese.