Blind readers use a tactile reading system consisting of raised dot arrays: braille/⠃⠗⠇. How do human brains implement reading by touch? The current study looked for signatures of reading-specific orthographic processes in braille, separate from low-level somatosensory responses and semantic processes. Of specific interest were responses in posterior parietal cortices (PPCs), because of their role in high-level tactile perception. Congenitally blind, proficient braille readers read real words and pseudowords by touch while undergoing fMRI. We leveraged the system of contractions in English braille, where one braille cell can represent multiple English print letters (e.g., “ing” ⠬, “one” ⠐⠕), making it possible to separate physical and orthographic word length. All words in the study consisted of four braille cells, but their corresponding Roman letter spellings varied from four to seven letters (e.g., “con-c-er-t” ⠒⠉⠻⠞. contracted: four cells; uncontracted: seven letters). We found that the bilateral supramarginal gyrus in the PPC increased its activity as the uncontracted word length increased. By contrast, in the hand region of primary somatosensory cortex (S1), activity increased as a function of a low-level somatosensory feature: dot-number per word. The PPC also showed greater response to pseudowords than real words and distinguished between real and pseudowords in multivariate-pattern analysis. Parieto-occipital, early visual and ventral occipito-temporal, as well as prefrontal cortices also showed sensitivity to the real-versus-pseudoword distinction. We conclude that PPC is involved in orthographic processing for braille, that is, braille character and word recognition, possibly because of braille's tactile modality.

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