Neurobiological studies of reading and reading disability

Kenneth R. Pugh*, W. Einar Mencl, Annette R. Jenner, Leonard Katz, Stephen J. Frost, Jun Ren Lee, Sally E. Shaywitz, Bennett A. Shaywitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

391 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence from neuroimaging studies, including our own, suggest that skilled word identification in reading is related to the functional integrity of two consolidated left hemisphere (LH) posterior systems: a dorsal (temporo-parietal) circuit and a ventral (occipito-temporal) circuit. This posterior system appears to be functionally disrupted in developmental dyslexia. Relative to nonimpaired readers, reading-disabled individuals demonstrate heightened reliance on both inferior frontal and right hemisphere posterior regions, presumably in compensation for the LH posterior difficulties. We propose a neurobiological account suggesting that for normally developing readers, the dorsal circuit predominates at first, and in conjunction with premotor systems, is associated with analytic processing necessary for learning to integrate orthographic with phonological and lexical-semantic features of printed words. The ventral circuit constitutes a fast, late-developing, word form system, which underlies fluency in word recognition. Learning outcomes: As a result of this activity, (1) the participant will learn about a model of lexical processing involving specific cortical regions. (2) The participant will learn about evidence which supports the theory that two dorsal LH systems may be disrupted in developmental dyslexia. (3) The participant will learn that individuals with reading impairment may rely on other regions of the brain to compensate for the disruption of posterior function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-492
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dyslexia
  • Lexical processing
  • Neuroimaging
  • Phonology
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • LPN and LVN
  • Linguistics and Language


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