The early stages of visual word recognition were investigated by scanning participants using PET as they took part in implicit and explicit reading tasks with visually disrupted stimuli. CaSe MiXiNg has been shown in behavioral studies to increase reaction times (RTs) in naming and other word recognition tasks. In this study, we found that during both an implicit (feature detection) task and an explicit word-naming task, mixed-case words compared to same-case words produced increased activation in an area of the right parietal cortex previously associated with visual attention. No effect of case was found in this area for pseudowords or consonant strings. Further, lowering the contrast of the stimuli slowed RTs as much as case mixing, but did not lead to the same increase in right parietal activation. No significant effect of case mixing was observed in left-hemisphere language areas. The results suggest that reading mixed-case words requires increased attentional processing. However, later word recognition processes may be relatively unaffected by the disruption in presentation.

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