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This study examined whether variations in brain development between kindergarten and Grade 3 predicted individual differences in reading ability at Grade 3. Structural MRI measurements indicated that increases in the volume of two left temporo-parietal white matter clusters are unique predictors of reading outcomes above and beyond family history, socioeconomic status, and cognitive and preliteracy measures at baseline. Using diffusion MRI, we identified the left arcuate fasciculus and superior corona radiata as key fibers within the two clusters. Bias-free regression analyses using regions of interest from prior literature revealed that volume changes in temporo-parietal white matter, together with preliteracy measures, predicted 56% of the variance in reading outcomes. Our findings demonstrate the important contribution of developmental differences in areas of left dorsal white matter, often implicated in phonological processing, as a sensitive early biomarker for later reading abilities, and by extension, reading difficulties.

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