Cerebellar Function in Children With and Without Dyslexia During Single Word Processing

The cerebellar deficit hypothesis of dyslexia posits that dysfunction of the cerebellum is the underlying cause for reading difficulties observed in this common learning disability. The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a single word processing task to test for differences in activity and connectivity in children with (n = 23) and without (n = 23) dyslexia.

The authors found cerebellar activity in the control group when word processing was compared to fixation, but not when it was compared to the active baseline task designed to reveal activity specific to reading. In the group with dyslexia there was no cerebellar activity for either contrasts and there were no differences when they were compared to children without dyslexia. Turning to functional connectivity (FC) in the controls, background FC (i.e., not specific to reading) was predominately found between the cerebellum and the occipitaltemporal cortex. In the group with dyslexia, there was background FC between the cerebellum and several cortical regions. When comparing the two groups, they differed in background FC in connections between the seed region right crus I and three left‐hemisphere perisylvian target regions. However, there was no task‐specific FC for word processing in either group and no between‐group differences.

Together the results do not support the theory that the cerebellum is affected functionally during reading in children with dyslexia.

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