Children with dyslexia and typical readers: Sex-based choline differences revealed using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquired within anterior cingulate cortex

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Abstract

Children with dyslexia exhibit slow and inaccurate reading, as well as problems in executive functions. Decreased signal activation in brain regions related to visual processing and executive functions has been observed with functional magnetic resonance imaging with reports of sex differences in brain patterns for visual processing regions. However, the underlying neurochemistry associated with deficits in executive functions for children with dyslexia has not been thoroughly evaluated. Reading ability and executive functions were assessed in fifty-three children [ages 8–12 years old, dyslexia (n = 24), and typical readers (n = 30)]. We employed short echo, single voxel, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to evaluate the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Pearson correlations were calculated between metabolite concentrations and measures of reading, processing speed, and executive function. Logistic regression models were used to determine the effects of brain metabolite concentrations, processing speed, and reading scores on dyslexia status. Differences by child’s sex were also examined. Compared to typical readers, higher global executive composite t-score is associated with greater odds for dyslexia (OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.05, 1.23); increased processing speed appears to be protective for dyslexia (OR 0.95; 95% 0.89–1.00). After adjustment for multiple comparisons, females with dyslexia showed strong and significant negative correlations between processing speed and myo-inositol (r = -0.55, p = 0.005) and choline (r = -0.54, p = 0.005) concentrations; effect modification by sex was confirmed in linear regression models (p sex∗Cho = 0.0006) and (p sex∗mI = 0.01). These associations were not observed for males or the group as a whole. These findings suggest that children with dyslexia share difficulty in one or more areas of executive function, specifically those related to response time. Also, metabolite changes in the ACC may be present in children with dyslexia, especially for females, and may hold value as possible markers for dyslexia.

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Horowitz-Kraus, T., Brunst, K. J., & Cecil, K. M. (2018). Children with dyslexia and typical readers: Sex-based choline differences revealed using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquired within anterior cingulate cortex. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00466

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