Date of Award

8-12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Tricia Z. King, PhD

Second Advisor

Bruce Crosson, PhD

Third Advisor

Robin Morris, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Conway, PhD

Abstract

Adult survivors of childhood posterior fossa tumors can experience reading difficulties related to white matter integrity. Previously, reading was shown to be related to cortical white matter tracts, however information transfer across the corpus callosum (CC) may also play a role in reading. The current study used both macro- and microstructural measures of the WM structure of the corpus callosum. The current study examined how white matter volume and fractional anisotropy (FA) in five divisions of the CC was related to degree of neurological risk and reading skill, and tested two mediation models predicting reading. Participants included 20 adult survivors of childhood posterior fossa tumor and 23 healthy controls. Volume and FA were measured in five divisions of the mid-sagittal corpus callosum. Total intracranial vault was used as a covariate in volume analyses. FA was reduced in CC1 and volume was reduced in each subregion in survivors. Volume but not FA was related to degree of neurological risk. Results identified that reduced volume in CC1 and CC5, and FA in CC5 appear to be specifically related to reading skill in line with the cortical reading regions that connect in these subregions of the CC. Mediation models indicate that processing speed is the mechanism by which volume is related to reading skill. These findings have implications for addressing processing speed in reading interventions in survivors and provide insight into the interhemispheric connections in the reading network.

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