In total, 90 children who were native German speakers participated in the longitudinal study investigating reading acquisition and dyslexia. All participants passed a hearing and visual acuity screening and had no history of neurological diseases. Children were recruited through advertisements in kindergartens, newsletters, Facebook groups etc. throughout the city of Berlin. Recruitment targeted children in their last year of kindergarten. Parents and children were informed that the goal was to test reading and spelling development from the end of kindergarten until the end of the second year of primary school. Children were recruited on a voluntary basis and both parents and children were carefully briefed about the longitudinal study design and the constraints of the fMRI measurement. Parents and children gave written and oral informed consent. Parents filled out a questionnaire to document their professional education level, and received travel compensation for their participation. Children were rewarded with age‐appropriate educational gifts. The Ethics Committee of the German Association for Psychology (DGPs) approved the experimental procedures (AM042014).

In Germany, formal reading instruction starts in elementary school. To ensure that children were truly preliterate, they performed a short custom‐made screening test that assessed basic letter knowledge (e.g., a, d), picture‐word matching of highly frequent words (e.g., ball, cow), syllable reading (e.g., pa, som), decoding of phonotactically valid pseudowords (e.g., Muma, Ticht) and word reading (e.g., father, evening). Three children were excluded from the study as they were able to reliably decode syllables (see Table 1 for the screening results). Furthermore, one child was excluded due to a serious specific language disorder. An additional nine children refused to participate in the training session (mock‐scanner) to familiarize children with the fMRI apparatus, resulting in 77 children participating in the passive fMRI experiment at kindergarten age (T1). Data from one child could not be analyzed due to technical problems during the scanning session and 22 children had to be excluded due to excessive movement artifacts. Consequently, the fMRI sample consisted of 54 children, 16 of these children were at family risk of developing dyslexia; that is, at least one relative was affected by developmental dyslexia as reported in a parental questionnaire (Moll & Landerl, 2010). The remaining 38 children had neither first‐ nor second‐degree relatives with developmental dyslexia. In a second session at T1, children were also tested for cognitive–linguistic prereading skills.

Psychometric information of children before and after reading acquisition

Note: Demographic information and behavioral test results for the fMRI samples. Means (M) and standard deviations (SD) are reported for raw data, percentile range scores (PR) or age‐normed intelligence scores (score). Min‐max values are indicated for scale of age‐normed BISC and subscales of BISC. Risk score is the aggregated information of all subscales. Spearmans rho (r s) are reported for the correlation of literacy tests with the BISC risk score.

To assess literacy skills, all children were invited back at the end of the second year of primary school (T2). At this point, three children from the original sample of 77 children withdrew their participation. Two children had to repeat the second grade and were retested 1 year later. Forty‐eight of these children had successfully completed the fMRI session at kindergarten age (T1). For these children, we were able to link the neural processing before onset of literacy to actual reading performance. All following results are based on the fMRI sample of 54 (concurrent analysis of cognitive–linguistic prereading skills) and 48 (longitudinal prediction of reading) children. A summary of the demographic and psychometric data is given in Table 1.

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