Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Convergent and divergent brain structural and functional abnormalities associated with developmental dyslexia


Yan, Xiaohui (2021), Convergent and divergent brain structural and functional abnormalities associated with developmental dyslexia, Dryad, Dataset,


Brain abnormalities in the reading network have been repeatedly reported in individuals with developmental dyslexia (DD); however, it is still not totally understood where the structural and functional abnormalities are consistent/inconsistent across languages. In the current multimodal meta-analysis, we found convergent structural and functional alterations in the left superior temporal gyrus across languages, suggesting a neural signature of DD. We found greater reduction in grey matter volume and brain activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus in morpho-syllabic languages (e.g. Chinese) than in alphabetic languages, and greater reduction in brain activation in the left middle temporal gyrus and fusiform gyrus in alphabetic languages than in morpho-syllabic languages. These language differences are explained as consequences of being DD while learning a specific language. In addition, we also found brain regions that showed increased grey matter volume and brain activation, presumably suggesting compensations and brain regions that showed inconsistent alterations in brain structure and function. Our study provides important insights about the etiology of DD from a cross-linguistic perspective with considerations of consistency/inconsistency between structural and functional alterations.


We searched in “PubMed” ( and “Web of science” for neuroimaging studies published from January 1986 to January 2020 using a combination of a condition term (i.e. dyslexia, reading disorder, reading impairment, reading difficulty or reading disability) and a technical term (i.e. fMRI, PET, voxel-based morphometry, VBM, or neuroimaging), for example, "dyslexia" & "fMRI". See the full list of key word combinations in the supplementary materials. Additionally, we manually added studies by checking the references of the selected papers that were missed in the search. The inclusion criteria were: (1) PET, fMRI, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) studies or structural studies using a volumetric FreeSurfer pipeline, (2) whole-brain results were reported, (3) direct group comparisons between readers with DD and age control readers were reported, (4) coordinates were reported in Talairach or MNI stereotactic space, and (5) studies on DD in the first language. The exclusion criteria were (1) studies with only ROI analysis, (2) resting-state studies, (3) studies that only included readers with DD or did not report group differences, (4) studies with direct group comparisons only between readers with DD and reading level control readers, (5) studies on children at risk for dyslexia, and (6) studies focused on non-linguistic tasks ). Finally, 119 experiments from 110 papers were included in this meta-analysis comprising 92 brain functional experiments (from 87 papers) and 27 brain structural experiments (from 23 papers). From the original publications, we extracted peak coordinates, where there is a significant difference between controls and individuals with DD either in brain activation or regional GMV. We also extracted effect sizes and other information from the publications.

Usage Notes

Data were processed using Signed Differential Mapping software (AES-SDM version 5.14, see Readers can reproduce all the  results using this dataset.  The SDM table information needed for meta-analysis is stored in an Excel file named 'sdm_table'. The detailed information can be found in the original paper ( For the direct comparation, readers should subdive the dataset into a reduced activation dataset and an increased activation dataset.