Executive functions (EF) are a variety of cognitive processes supporting learning and academic activities such as reading. It is evident that children with atypical reading development, such as dyslexia and Rolandic epilepsy, show deficits in EF. These individuals also share challenges in reading and narrative comprehension, and it is assumed that these difficulties are attributed to their challenges in EF.
Three studies conducted during this PhD aimed to compare the involvement of EF and associated neural networks during reading and narrative comprehension in 8-15 year-old Hebrew and English speaking typical readers, children with dyslexia and children with Rolandic epilepsy using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Overall, the finding point at a crucial involvement of EF in narrative and reading comprehension processes, with distinct patterns of EF involvement were found in children with atypical reading development. This work supports the need to include EF in reading development models, such as the Simple View of Reading model.
After completing her B.A in psychology from the university of Haifa, Raya started her Master’s degree in the Educational Neuroimaging lab. Raya moved to a direct PhD track and her research focused on the role of executive functions in reading and narrative comprehension in children with typical and atypical language development. The main populations she worked with were children with epilepsy and children with dyslexia.