Functional Connectivity of Cognitive Control and Visual Regions During Verb Generation Is Related to Improved Reading in Children

Twait, E., & Horowitz-Kraus, T. (2019). Brain connectivity9(6), 500-507.

Reading is a complex cognitive ability, which relies on visual and language processing as well as on executive functions (EFs). Recent studies have demonstrated that increased reading ability in children aged 7–17 years is related to greater activation of cognitive control regions during verb generation, a task which merges linguistic and cognitive control ability. The aim of the current study is to determine the relationships between neural circuits specifically related to EF and reading ability. We focused on functional connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a region involved in EF and is part of the frontoparietal network during a verb generation task, and reading ability in seventeen 8–12-year-old typical readers. Results show positive functional connectivity between the left and right DLPFCs and regions related to cognitive control and visual processing while generating verbs. Increased reading ability was positively correlated with greater functional connectivity between the left and right DLPFCs and right-lateralized visual processing regions. The current study highlights the importance of neural circuits related to EF during both verb generation and reading and points to the role of the right occipital cortex in generating verbs as well as automatic word recognition in typical readers.