A universal reading network and its modulation by writing system and reading ability in French and Chinese children

  1. Xiaoxia Feng  Is a corresponding author
  2. Irene Altarelli
  3. Karla Monzalvo
  4. Guosheng Ding
  5. Franck Ramus
  6. Hua Shu
  7. Stanislas Dehaene
  8. Xiangzhi Meng  Is a corresponding author
  9. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz  Is a corresponding author
  1. INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimage Unit, France
  2. Beijing Normal University, China
  3. Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL Research University, France
  4. INSERM, France
  5. Peking University, China

Abstract

Are the brain mechanisms of reading acquisition similar across writing systems? And do similar brain anomalies underlie reading difficulties in alphabetic and ideographic reading systems? In a cross-cultural paradigm, we measured the fMRI responses to words, faces and houses in 96 Chinese and French 10-year-old children, half of whom were struggling with reading. We observed a reading circuit which was strikingly similar across languages and consisting of the left fusiform gyrus, superior temporal gyrus/sulcus, precentral and middle frontal gyri. Activations in some of these areas were modulated either by language or by reading ability, but without interaction between those factors. In various regions previously associated with dyslexia, reading difficulty affected activation similarly in Chinese and French readers, including the middle frontal gyrus, a region previously described as specifically altered in Chinese. Our analyses reveal a large degree of cross-cultural invariance in the neural correlates of reading acquisition and reading impairment.

Data availability

The processed data to generate figures in this manuscript will be shared in the Open Science Framework (Identifier: DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/C4AXG).

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Xiaoxia Feng

    Neurospin, INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimage Unit, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    For correspondence
    xiaoxia.feng@cea.fr
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0414-4509
  2. Irene Altarelli

    Neurospin, INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimage Unit, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Karla Monzalvo

    Neurospin, INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimage Unit, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Guosheng Ding

    State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning & IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Franck Ramus

    Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (ENS, CNRS, EHESS), Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL Research University, Paris, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Hua Shu

    State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning and IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Stanislas Dehaene

    Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, CEA DRF/JOLIOT, INSERM, Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris-Saclay, NeuroSpin center, INSERM, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Xiangzhi Meng

    School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
    For correspondence
    mengxzh@pku.edu.cn
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz

    Neurospin, INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimage Unit, GIF/YVETTE, France
    For correspondence
    ghislaine.deahene@cea.fr
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China (81171016,81371206,31971039)

  • Xiangzhi Meng

Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-06-NEURO-019-01,ANR-11-BSV4-014-01,ANR-17-EURE-0017 and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL)

  • Franck Ramus

Fondation Bettencourt Schueller

  • Stanislas Dehaene

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: The study was approved by Institutional Review Boards at Beijing Normal University in China and local ethics committee (CPP Ile de France VII, N˚ 11-008) in Kremlin-Bicêtre, France (#20130331). Written consent and consent to publish was obtained from all children and their parents.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Andrea E Martin, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Netherlands

Publication history

  1. Received: December 19, 2019
  2. Accepted: October 26, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 29, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 16, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Feng et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Xiaoxia Feng
  2. Irene Altarelli
  3. Karla Monzalvo
  4. Guosheng Ding
  5. Franck Ramus
  6. Hua Shu
  7. Stanislas Dehaene
  8. Xiangzhi Meng
  9. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz
(2020)
A universal reading network and its modulation by writing system and reading ability in French and Chinese children
eLife 9:e54591.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54591

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