Neurocognitive risk factors for co-occurring math difficulties in dyslexia: Differences in executive function and visuospatial processing [post]

Rebecca A. Marks, Courtney Pollack, Steven Meisler, Anila D'Mello, Tracy Centanni, Rachel R Romeo, Karolina Wade, Anna A Matejko, Daniel Ansari, John Gabrieli, Joanna A Christodoulou
2022 unpublished
What makes math difficulties so common in children with dyslexia? The current study aimed to identify behavioral and neurocognitive factors associated with co-occurring reading disability (RD) and math disability (MD). We tested reading, math, and cognitive skills in a sample of 86 children in 3rd–7th grade (ages 9-13) with RD. Within this sample, 35% of children had RD only with no weakness in math, 43% had co-occurring RD+MD, and over 20% demonstrated a possible vulnerability in math. We
more » ... tigated whether RD-Only and RD+MD students differed behaviorally in their phonological awareness, reading skills, or executive function, as well as in the brain mechanisms underlying word reading and visuospatial working memory using fMRI. We found that the additional difficulty with math in children with RD was unrelated to differences in behavioral or brain measures of phonological awareness related to speech or print. However, the RD+MD group performed significantly worse than the RD-Only group on multiple measures of executive function, including working memory and processing speed. The RD+MD group also exhibited reduced brain activations for visuospatial working memory relative to the RD-Only group. Continuous analyses along a spectrum of math ability revealed that greater math difficulties were associated with reduced activation in the visual cortex. These converging neuro-behavioral findings suggest that poor executive function in general, and differences in visuospatial working memory in particular, are associated with co-occurring MD among children with RD.
doi:10.31234/ fatcat:plvzzvg76bcc7oxpujyav7q6jy