Similar alterations in brain function for phonological and semantic processing to visual characters in Chinese dyslexia.
ABSTRACT Dyslexia in alphabetic languages has been extensively investigated and suggests a central deficit in orthography to phonology mapping in the left hemisphere. Compared to dyslexia in alphabetic languages, the central deficit for Chinese dyslexia is still unclear. Because of the logographic nature of Chinese characters, some have suggested that Chinese dyslexia should have larger deficits in the semantic system. To investigate this, Chinese children with reading disability (RD) were compared to typically developing (TD) children using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a rhyming judgment task and on a semantic association judgment task. RD children showed less activation for both tasks in right visual (BA18, 19) and left occipito-temporal cortex (BA 37), suggesting a deficit in visuo-orthographic processing. RD children also showed less activation for both tasks in left inferior frontal gyrus (BA44), which additionally showed significant correlations with activation of bilateral visuo-orthographic regions in the RD group, suggesting that the abnormalities in frontal cortex and in posterior visuo-orthographic regions may reflect a deficit in the connection between brain regions. Analyses failed to reveal larger differences between groups for the semantic compared to the rhyming task, suggesting that Chinese dyslexia is similarly impaired in the access to phonology and to semantics from the visual orthography.