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Department of Psychology pres.

Developmental Brown Bag: Child Literacy & Dyslexia: From Neurobiology to Intergenerational Transmission

Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Psychological Sciences, Mathematics, Neuroscience and Psychiatry and CT Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBaCS) Director of Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC) University of Connecticut

Hoeft Hoeft
In this talk, I will broadly present research on the latest neuroimaging findings of reading acquisition and dyslexia primarily from our group including new hypothesis of dyslexia “the neural noise hypothesis” (Hancock Pugh Hoeft. Trends in Cog Sci 2017).

Parents have large influence on offspring’s brain and cognitive development. The Intergenerational Multiple Deficit Model (iMDM [van Bergen et al. Front Hum Neurosci 2014]; or Cumulative Risk and Protection Model, CRAP Model) affords integration of parental influences as well as others, whether genetic or environmental, and whether risk or protective factors, to explain individual differences in reading ability and liability for developing dyslexia, a specific disorder of reading. Further, it has recently been suggested that most complex traits show intergenerational sex-specific transmission patterns, which could help uncover biological pathways of transmission. Macrocircuits using imaging may be an ideal target for investigations of intergenerational effects, where key causes may converge in ways that lead to complex phenotypes such as reading and dyslexia.

Based on these notions, we are currently examining how parental cognitive and neuroimaging patterns are associated with offspring’s reading and related imaging patterns (e.g. Black et al. NeuroImage 2012, Hosseini et al. NeuroImage 2013, Hoeft & Hancock. Geschwind-Galaburda Hypothesis, 30 years Later 2017, Chang et al. under prep). We first establish the feasibility of this novel approach, intergenerational neuroimaging, by confirming matrilineal transmission patterns in the cortico-limbic system that is well established in gene expression and behavioral studies of animals and humans (Yamagata et al. J Neurosci 2016). We then interrogate network patterns related to reading, and show intergenerational transmission patterns. We also show results indicating how paternal age may negatively predict reading outcome and the potential neural mechanism (e.g. attention, thalamic development, de novo mutation [Xia et al. under review]). We discuss preliminary findings in light of historical and latest causal theories of dyslexia. We also introduce our new research program utilizing a natural cross-fostering design will allow us to dissociate genetic, prenatal and postnatal environmental influences, which has traditionally not been feasible in humans, but is critically important in dissecting neurobiological mechanisms underlying reading and dyslexia (Ho et al. Trends in Neuroscience. 2016).
Hoeft Hoeft

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