Differences in integrity of white matter and changes with training in spelling impaired children: a diffusion tensor imaging study.
Gebauer D., Fink A., Filippini N., Johansen-Berg H., Reishofer G., Koschutnig K., Kargl R., Purgstaller C., Fazekas F., Enzinger C.
While the functional correlates of spelling impairment have been rarely investigated, to our knowledge no study exists regarding the structural characteristics of spelling impairment and potential changes with interventions. Using diffusion tensor imaging at 3.0 T, we here therefore sought to investigate (a) differences between children with poor spelling abilities (training group and waiting group) and controls, and (b) the effects of a morpheme-based spelling intervention in children with poor spelling abilities on DTI parameters. A baseline comparison of white matter indices revealed significant differences between controls and spelling-impaired children, mainly located in the right hemisphere (superior corona radiata (SCR), posterior limb of internal capsule, superior longitudinal fasciculus). After 5 weeks of training, spelling ability improved in the training group, along with increases in fractional anisotropy and decreases of radial diffusivity in the right hemisphere compared to controls. In addition, significantly higher decreases of mean diffusivity in the right SCR for the spelling-impaired training group compared to the waiting group were observed. Our results suggest that spelling impairment is associated with differences in white-matter integrity in the right hemisphere. We also provide first indications that white matter changes occur during successful training, but this needs to be more specifically addressed in future research.