Quantitative MRI reveals differences in striatal myelin in children with DLD.
Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by receptive or expressive language difficulties or both. While theoretical frameworks and empirical studies support the idea that there may be neural correlates of DLD in frontostriatal loops, findings are inconsistent across studies. Here, we use a novel semiquantitative imaging protocol - multi-parameter mapping (MPM) - to investigate microstructural neural differences in children with DLD. The MPM protocol allows us to reproducibly map specific indices of tissue microstructure. In 56 typically developing children and 33 children with DLD, we derived maps of (1) longitudinal relaxation rate R1 (1/T1), (2) transverse relaxation rate R2* (1/T2*), and (3) Magnetization Transfer saturation (MTsat). R1 and MTsat predominantly index myelin, while R2* is sensitive to iron content. Children with DLD showed reductions in MTsat values in the caudate nucleus bilaterally, as well as in the left ventral sensorimotor cortex and Heschl's gyrus. They also had globally lower R1 values. No group differences were noted in R2* maps. Differences in MTsat and R1 were coincident in the caudate nucleus bilaterally. These findings support our hypothesis of corticostriatal abnormalities in DLD and indicate abnormal levels of myelin in the dorsal striatum in children with DLD.
Peer reviewed: True
Wellcome Trust (203139/Z/16/Z)