Reading fluency -- the speed and accuracy of reading connected text -- is foundational to educational success. The current longitudinal study investigates the neural correlates of fluency development using a connected-text paradigm with an individualized presentation rate. Twenty-six children completed a functional MRI task in 1st/2nd grade (time 1) and again 1-2 years later (time 2). There was a longitudinal increase in activation in the ventral occipito-temporal (vOT) cortex from time 1 to time 2. This increase was also associated with improvements in reading fluency skills and modulated by individual speed demands. These findings highlight the reciprocal relationship of the vOT region with reading proficiency and its importance for supporting the transition to fluent reading. These results have implications for developing effective interventions to target increased automaticity in reading.
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