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Reading skill and related neural pathways in adult bilinguals

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  • This study examined the structural integrity of white matter tracts related to reading in twelve Chinese-English adult bilinguals. Participants read aloud three lists of words varying in their proportions of regular (REG) and exception (EXC) words as quickly and accurately as possible. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography analysis, measures of white matter integrity, namely fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD), were examined against the behavioural measures of accuracy (ACC) and response time (RT). With a dual-route model of reading in mind, ventral tracts examined included the uncinate fasciculus (UF), inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). The dorsal tracts of interest were the arcuate fasciculus (AF) and the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). Each of the tracts of interest was isolated in both the left and right hemispheres. The mid-superior portion of the fornix was used as a control. Results revealed significant correlations between behavioural measures (RT and ACC) and FA in the right UF, and MD in the right AF and bilaterally in the SLF. These findings support the notion of a role of the right hemisphere in reading, in both dorsal and ventral pathways.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International