Psychological studies showed the quantity of reading habit affects the development of their reading skills, various language skills, and knowledge. However, despite a vast amount of literature, the effects of reading habit on the development of white matter (WM) structures critical to language and reading processes have never been investigated. In this study, we used the fractional anisotropy (FA) measure of diffusion tensor imaging to measure WM microstructural properties and examined cross-sectional and longitudinal correlations between reading habit and FA of the WM bundles in a large sample of normal children. In both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, we found that greater strength of reading habit positively affected FA in the left arcuate fasciculus (AF), in the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), and in the left posterior corona radiata (PCR). Consistent with previous studies, we also confirmed the significance or a tendency for positive correlation between the strength of reading habit and the Verbal Comprehension score in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. These cross-sectional and longitudinal findings indicate that a healthy reading habit may be directly or indirectly associated with the advanced development of WM critical to reading and language processes. Future intervention studies are needed to determine the causal effects of reading habits on WM in normal children.
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