Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Nicole Landi, Marie Coppola, Kenneth Pugh

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


The acquisition of literacy is a challenging task that engages multiple processing systems to integrate multimodal information. As a result, children exhibit wide variability in reading ability, with the lowest performers classified as having Specific Reading Disability (SRD). Functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research has identified a reading network in the brain consisting primarily of left hemisphere temporo-parietal, occipito-temporal, and inferior frontal regions, but the structural neural substrates that support skilled reading during the formative years of reading acquisition remain underspecified. The present study applied a continuous analytic approach to investigate distinct surface-based properties of cortical structure (cortical thickness and surface area) in association with individual differences in reading-related skills in a sample of children ages 5-8 years. Brain structure was examined in relation to reading-related skills measured at concurrent and lagged follow-up time points in order to assess the stability of these relationships over time. Significant positive correlations with cortical structure were observed in the analysis of reading skills measured 8-12 months after MRI. Cortical surface area in left occipito-temporal, left prefrontal, and right superior temporal regions was associated with sight-word reading performance; Cortical thickness in the right postcentral cortex was associated with phonological awareness performance. These findings indicate that distinct properties of cortical structure are independently related to reading skills and may be salient predictors of reading outcomes over time.

Major Advisor

Nicole Landi