skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, April 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, April 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Neurocognitive mechanisms of co‐occurring math difficulties in dyslexia: Differences in executive function and visuospatial processing
Abstract Research Highlights

Children with reading disabilities (RD) frequently have a co‐occurring math disability (MD), but the mechanisms behind this high comorbidity are not well understood.

We examined differences in phonological awareness, reading skills, and executive function between children with RD only versus co‐occurring RD+MD using behavioral and fMRI measures.

Children with RD only versus RD+MD did not differ in their phonological processing, either behaviorally or in the brain.

RD+MD was associated with additional behavioral difficulties in working memory, and reduced visual cortex activation during a visuospatial working memory task.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Developmental Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Research Highlights

    Relationships between phonological processing and various arithmetic skills were investigated in children with learning disabilities (LDs) for the first time.

    We found phonemic awareness was related to arithmetic involving fact retrieval, but not to arithmetic involving procedural computation in LDs.

    The results suggest that phonemic awareness is not only important to skilled reading, but also to some aspects of arithmetic.

    These results raise the question of whether intervention in phonemic awareness might improve arithmetic fact retrieval skills.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract Research Highlights

    Most executive jobs are prospected to be obsolete within several decades, so creative skills are seen as essential for the near future.

    School experience has been shown to play a role in creativity development, however, the underlying brain mechanisms remained under‐investigated yet.

    Seventy‐five 4–18 years‐old children, from Montessori or traditional schools, performed a creativity task at the behavioral level, and a 6‐min resting‐state MR scan.

    We uniquely report preliminary evidence for the impact of pedagogy on functional brain networks.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract Background

    The language of the science curriculum is complex, even in the early grades. To communicate their scientific observations, children must produce complex syntax, particularly complement clauses (e.g.,I think it will float;We noticed that it vibrates). Complex syntax is often challenging for children with developmental language disorder (DLD), and thus their learning and communication of science may be compromised.


    We asked whether recast therapy delivered in the context of a science curriculum led to gains in complement clause use and scientific content knowledge. To understand the efficacy of recast therapy, we compared changes in science and language knowledge in children who received treatment for complement clauses embedded in a first‐grade science curriculum to two active control conditions (vocabulary + science, phonological awareness + science).

    Methods & Procedures

    This 2‐year single‐site three‐arm parallel randomized controlled trial was conducted in Delaware, USA. Children with DLD, not yet in first grade and with low accuracy on complement clauses, were eligible. Thirty‐three 4–7‐year‐old children participated in the summers of 2018 and 2019 (2020 was cancelled due to COVID‐19). We assigned participants to arms using 1:1:1 pseudo‐random allocation (avoiding placing siblings together). The intervention consisted of 39 small‐group sessions of recast therapy, robust vocabulary instruction or phonological awareness intervention during eight science units over 4 weeks, followed by two science units (1 week) taught without language intervention. Pre‐/post‐measures were collected 3 weeks before and after camp by unmasked assessors.

    Outcomes & Results

    Primary outcome measures were accuracy on a 20‐item probe of complement clause production and performance on ten 10‐item unit tests (eight science + language, two science only). Complete data were available for 31 children (10 grammar, 21 active control); two others were lost to follow‐up. Both groups made similar gains on science unit tests for science + language content (pre versus post,d= 2.9,p< 0.0001; group,p= 0.24). The grammar group performed significantly better at post‐test than the active control group (d= 2.5,p= 0.049) on complement clause probes and marginally better on science‐only unit tests (d= 2.5,p= 0.051).

    Conclusions & Implications

    Children with DLD can benefit from language intervention embedded in curricular content and learn both language and science targets taught simultaneously. Tentative findings suggest that treatment for grammar targets may improve academic outcomes.

    What this paper addsWhat is already known on the subject

    We know that recast therapy focused on morphology is effective but very time consuming. Treatment for complex syntax in young children has preliminary efficacy data available. Prior research provides mixed evidence as to children’s ability to learn language targets in conjunction with other information.

    What this study adds

    This study provides additional data supporting the efficacy of intensive complex syntax recast therapy for children ages 4–7 with Developmental Language Disorder. It also provides data that children can learn language targets and science curricular content simultaneously.

    What are the clinical implications of this work?

    As SLPs, we have to talk about something to deliver language therapy; we should consider talking about curricular content. Recast therapy focused on syntactic frames is effective with young children.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Socioeconomic status (SES) has been shown to influence language skills, with children of lower SES backgrounds performing worse on language assessments compared to their higher SES peers. While there is abundant behavioral research on the effects of SES, whether there are differences in the neural mechanisms used to support language skill is less established. In this study, we examined the relation between maternal education (ME), a component of SES, and neural mechanisms of language. We focused on Kindergarten children, at the beginning of formal reading education, and on a pre‐reading skill, phonological awareness—the ability to distinguish or manipulate the sounds of language. We determined ME‐related differences in neural activity by examining a skill‐matched sample of typically achieving 5‐year‐old children as they performed a rhyme judgment task. We examined brain lateralization in two language processing regions, the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and superior temporal gyrus (STG). In the IFG, lateralization was related to ME but not skill: children with low ME showed bilateral activation compared to children with higher ME who showed leftward lateralization. In the STG, there was a skill by ME interaction on lateralization, such that children with high ME showed a positive relation between rightward lateralization and skill and children with low ME showed a positive relation between leftward lateralization and skill. Thus, we demonstrated ME is related to differences in neural recruitment during language processing, yet this difference in recruitment is not indicative of a deficit in linguistic processing in Kindergarten children.

    more » « less
  5. Pinyin is an alphabetic script that denotes pronunciations of Chinese characters. Studies have shown that Pinyin instruction enhances both phonological awareness (e.g., Shu et al., Developmental Science, 2008, 11, 171–181) and character reading (e.g., Lin et al., Psychological Science, 2010, 21, 1117–1122) in Chinese children. In the present study, we provided a 3‐week Pinyin intervention with a computer‐based Pinyin GraphoGame to disadvantaged migrant children with poor Pinyin skills. A total of 252 first graders who were children of migrant workers in a large Chinese city were assessed to identify poor Pinyin readers. Fifty‐six 7‐year‐old children with poor Pinyin skills were selected and randomly divided into a training group and a control group, with 28 children in each group. The training group played the Pinyin GraphoGame for 3 weeks, while the control group received school instruction only during the same period. Results showed that the children in the training group outperformed their peers in the control group on Pinyin reading accuracy and fluency, onset–rime and phonemic awareness, and character reading. These results suggest that the Pinyin GraphoGame may be a cost‐effective method to enhance Pinyin and literacy outcomes for underprivileged children in China.

    more » « less