The hereditary character of dyslexia suggests the presence of putative underlying neural anomalies already in preliterate age. Here, we investigated whether early neurophysiological correlates of future reading difficulties—a hallmark of dyslexia—could be identified in the resting-state EEG of preliterate children. The children in this study were recruited at birth and classified on the basis of parents’ performance on reading tests to be at-risk of becoming poor readers (n = 48) or not (n = 14). Eyes-open rest EEG was measured at the age of 3 years, and the at-risk children were divided into fluent readers (n = 24) and non-fluent readers (n = 24) after reading assessment at their third grade of school. We found that fluent readers and non-fluent readers differed in normalized spectral amplitude. Non-fluent readers were characterized by lower amplitude in the delta-1 frequency band (0.5–2 Hz) and higher amplitude in the alpha-1 band (6-8 Hz) in multiple scalp regions compared to control and at-risk fluent readers. Interestingly, across groups these EEG biomarkers correlated with several behavioral test scores measured in the third grade. Specifically, the performance on reading fluency, phonological and orthographic tasks and rapid automatized naming task correlated positively with delta-1 and negatively with alpha-1. Together, our results suggest that combining family-risk status, neurophysiological testing and behavioral test scores in a longitudinal setting may help uncover physiological mechanisms implicated with neurodevelopmental disorders such as the predisposition to reading disabilities.
Schiavone, G., Linkenkaer Hansen, K., Maurits, N. M., Plakas, A., Maassen, B. A., Mansvelder, H. D., ... van Zuijen, T. L. (2014). Preliteracy signatures of poor-reading abilities in resting-state EEG. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 735. . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00735