Reading intervention and neuroplasticity: A systematic review and meta-analysis of brain changes associated with reading intervention
Perdue, M. V., Mahaffy, K., Vlahcevic, K., Wolfman, E., Erbeli, F., Richlan, F., & Landi, N. (2021). Reading intervention and neuroplasticity: A systematic review and meta-analysis of brain changes associated with reading intervention. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 132 (2022), 465-494. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiorev.2021.11.011
Behavioral research supports the efficacy of intervention for reading disability, but the brain mechanisms underlying improvement in reading are not well understood. Here, we review 39 neuroimaging studies of reading intervention to characterize links between reading improvement and changes in the brain. We report evidence of changes in activation, connectivity, and structure within the reading network, and right hemisphere, frontal and sub-cortical regions. Our meta-analysis of changes in brain activation from pre- to post- reading intervention in eight studies did not yield any significant effects. Methodological heterogeneity among studies may contribute to the lack of significant meta-analytic findings. Based on our qualitative synthesis, we propose that brain changes in response to intervention should be considered in terms of interactions among distributed cognitive, linguistic and sensory systems, rather than via a “normalized” vs. “compensatory” dichotomy. Further empirical research is needed to identify effects of moderating factors such as features of intervention programs, neuroimaging tasks, and individual differences among participants.