Parietal function in good and poor readers Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: While there are many psychophysical reports of impaired magnocellular pathway function in developmental dyslexia (DD), few have investigated parietal function, the major projection of this pathway, in good and poor readers closely matched for nonverbal intelligence. In view of new feedforward-feedback theories of visual processing, impaired magnocellular function raises the question of whether all visually-driven functions or only those associated with parietal cortex functions are equally impaired and if so, whether parietal performance is more closely related to general ability levels than reading ability. METHODS: Reading accuracy and performance on psychophysical tasks purported to selectively activate parietal cortex such as motion sensitivity, attentional tracking, and spatial localization was compared in 17 children with DD, 16 younger reading-age matched (RA) control children, and 46 good readers of similar chronological-age (CA) divided into CA-HighIQ and a CA-LowIQ matched to DD group nonverbal IQ. RESULTS: In the age-matched groups no significant differences were found between DD and CA controls on any of the tasks relating to parietal function, although performance of the DD group and their nonverbal IQ scores was always lower. As expected, CA and RA group comparisons indicated purported parietal functioning improves with age. No difference in performance was seen on any of the parietally driven tasks between the DD and age-nonverbal IQ matched groups, whereas performance differentiated the DD group from the age-matched, higher nonverbal IQ group on several such tasks. An unexpected statistical difference in performance between lower reading age (DD and RA children) and all higher reading age (CA) children was seen on a test of chromatic sensitivity, whereas when high and low nonverbal IQ normal readers were compared performance was not different CONCLUSION: The results indicate that performance on purported parietal functions improves with age and may be more associated with nonverbal mentation than reading accuracy. Performance on a cognitively demanding task, traditionally considered to rely on ventral stream functions, was more related to reading accuracy.

publication date

  • August 1, 2006