Authors: Ola Ozernov-Palchik, Dana Sury, Ted K. Turesky, Xi Yu, Nadine Gaab.

Article: Longitudinal changes in brain activation underlying reading fluency.

Publication: Human Brain Mapping (Wiley). First published: 19 August 2022 2022 | DOI: 10.1002/hbm.26048

[Full Text]


Reading fluency—the speed and accuracy of reading connected text—is foundational to educational success. The current longitudinal study investigates the neural correlates of fluency development using a connected-text paradigm with an individualized presentation rate. Twenty-six children completed a functional MRI task in 1st/2nd grade (time 1) and again 1–2 years later (time 2). There was a longitudinal increase in activation in the ventral occipito-temporal (vOT) cortex from time 1 to time 2. This increase was also associated with improvements in reading fluency skills and modulated by individual speed demands. These findings highlight the reciprocal relationship of the vOT region with reading proficiency and its importance for supporting the developmental transition to fluent reading. These results have implications for developing effective interventions to target increased automaticity in reading.

Tagged as: automaticity, fMRI, occipito-temporal, reading fluency, and repeated reading


Ozernov-Palchik, O., Sury, D., Turesky, T. K., Yu, X., & Gaab, N. (2022). Longitudinal changes in brain activation underlying reading fluency. Human Brain Mapping, 1– 17. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.26048

Excerpts from Full Text / Notes:

From Discussion:

There were differences in activation patterns between time 1 and time 2 points, across all presentation speeds. Specifically, in time 1, children recruited insular, cingulate, and occipito-temporal regions during sentence reading. In time 2, there was significant recruitment of occipito-temporal areas only.

These differences in patterns of activation between the two time points support the critical transition proposed around 3rd grade from effortful reading that requires the utilization of considerable cognitive resources, to increasingly automatic word recognition. Such automatic word recognition is akin to the effortless processing of other visual objects such faces…

Our findings can be extended to support the significance of interventions that prioritize fluency-building strategies.


We examined the development of the neural correlates underlying the development of reading fluency throughout 1–2 years of elementary schooling in a longitudinal design. Our results showed increased ventral occipito-temporal activation longitudinally and when increasing reading speed demands. Furthermore, increased activation was associated with better fluency development. These findings shed light on the reciprocal importance of the ventral occipito-temporal cortex for the development of reading fluency. Specifically, the increased engagement of this region in sentence reading (compared with letter strings) and during accelerated reading is modulated by and supports reading proficiency. These findings also provide mechanistic insights for the efficacy of repeated reading strategies to increase reading fluency.

Leave a public question or comment:

If you need personal help or assistance please use our contact forms instead.

All comments are moderated. Comments that are not relevant to the page topic or which contain identifiable personal information will be removed.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *