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Xi Yu,1,2 Jennifer Zuk,1,2 and Nadine Gaab1,2,3

  1. Boston Children’s Hospital
  2. Harvard Medical School
  3. Harvard Graduate School of Education

ABSTRACT—Developmental dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by deficits reading single words. Dyslexia is heritable and has been associated with neural alterations in regions of the left hemisphere in the brain. Cognitive and neural atypicalities have been observed before children with familial risk for dyslexia begin reading, yet children who are at risk subsequently develop reading abilities on a continuum from good to poor. Of those children who develop good reading skills, what factors are associated with more successful outcomes? In this article, we review findings describing genetic, cognitive, neurobiological, and environmental factors that facilitate reading development and propose a model of neural pathways to support successful reading development in at-risk children. This research can inform educational and clinical strategies to support at-risk children. Investigating factors that contribute to the variance in behavioral outcomes among at-risk children may help us understand developmental disorders and associated etiological, compensatory, and protective factors.

KEYWORDS—developmental dyslexia; brain development; resilience; reading; learning disabilities; neuroimaging; developmental disorders