Authors: Karen E Waldie, Charlotte E Haigh, Gjurgjica Badzakova-Trajkov, Jude Buckley, Ian J Kirk.

Article: Reading the wrong way with the right hemisphere.

Publication: Brain Sciences (MDPI). 3(3), 1060–1075 2013 | DOI: 10.3390/brainsci3031060

[Full Text] [PubMed]


Reading is a complex process, drawing on a variety of brain functions in order to link symbols to words and concepts. The three major brain areas linked to reading and phonological analysis include the left temporoparietal region, the left occipitotemporal region and the inferior frontal gyrus. Decreased activation of the left posterior language system in dyslexia is well documented but there is relatively limited attention given to the role of the right hemisphere. The current study investigated differences in right and left hemisphere activation between individuals with dyslexia and non-impaired readers in lexical decision tasks (regular words, irregular words, pseudowords) during functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Results revealed the expected hypo-activation in the left posterior areas in those with dyslexia but also areas of overactivation in the right hemisphere. During pseudoword decisions, for example, adults with dyslexia showed more right inferior occipital gyrus activation than controls. In general the increased activation of left-hemisphere language areas found in response to both regular and pseudowords was absent in dyslexics. Laterality indices showed that while controls showed left lateralised activation of the temporal lobe during lexical decision making, dyslexic readers showed right activation. Findings will inform theories of reading and will have implications for the design of reading interventions.

Tagged as: adult dyslexia, altbrain, fMRI, lateralisation, and right hemisphere


Waldie, K. E., Haigh, C. E., Badzakova-Trajkov, G., Buckley, J., & Kirk, I. J. (2013). Reading the wrong way with the right hemisphere. Brain sciences, 3(3), 1060–1075. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci3031060

Excerpts from Full Text / Notes:

5. Conclusions

Our results show that adults with dyslexia are slightly right lateralized overall for language, a profile that differed significantly from the left-lateralized activation observed in typical readers. Though there was also left hemisphere activation observed during reading tasks in the dyslexic participants, the right hemisphere activity was more diverse and primarily occurring in OT regions during pseudoword reading. Right hemisphere compensation in dyslexia may increase as phonological demands increase. Our findings are consistent with earlier work with dyslexic children, suggesting that the activation in the right hemisphere is likely to be a cause rather than a consequence of reading impairment.

Right hemisphere findings should be given more consideration in the literature, particularly as they may have important implications for early intervention, reading remediation and theories of neural plasticity.

[R]ight posterior overactivity may be an important biological marker of dyslexia if our results are replicated. Dyslexic adults appear to compensate for their reading impairment by an increased recruitment of these areas to assist with visual coding

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