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Abstract #0532

Early specific connections of the Visual Word Form Area during the first year of reading instruction: a longitudinal MRI study in children

Eric Moulton1, Florence Bouhali2, Karla Monzalvo1, Cyril Poupon3, Hui Zhang4, Stanislas Dehaene1,5, Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz1,6, and Jessica Dubois1

1INSERM, Gif-sur-Yvette, France, 2INSERM, Paris, France, 3CEA, Gif-sur-Yvette, France, 4University College London, London, United Kingdom, 5College de France, Paris, France, 6CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Specialized in word recognition, the visual word form area (VWFA) is located in the posterior fusiform gyrus of the left hemisphere, regardless of one’s writing system. To test the hypothesis that this consistent location is determined by specific connections to linguistic regions, we studied 6-7year old children throughout the process of learning to read. Using diffusion and functional MRI, we analysed the white-matter connectivity of cortical regions processing visual categories (words, houses, faces, tools). We showed that the emerging VWFA has specific and stable connections to the inferior-dorsal parietal cortex, and these connections exhibit microstructural maturation related to reading improvement.

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