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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2006) 18 (6): 911–922.
Published: 01 June 2006
AbstractView article PDF
Studies of skilled reading [Price, C. J., & Mechelli, A. Reading and reading disturbance. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 15, 231–238, 2005], its acquisition in children [Shaywitz, B. A., Shaywitz, S. E., Pugh, K. R., Mencl, W. E., Fulbright, R. K., Skudlarski, P., et al. Disruption of posterior brain systems for reading in children with developmental dyslexia. Biological Psychiatry, 52, 101–110, 2002; Turkeltaub, P. E., Gareau, L., Flowers, D. L., Zeffiro, T. A., & Eden, G. F. Development of neural mechanisms for reading. Nature Neuroscience, 6, 767–773, 2003], and its impairment in patients with pure alexia [Leff, A. P., Crewes, H., Plant, G. T., Scott, S. K., Kennard, C., & Wise, R. J. The functional anatomy of single word reading in patients with hemianopic and pure alexia. Brain, 124, 510–521, 2001] all highlight the importance of the left posterior fusiform cortex in visual word recognition. We used visual masked priming and functional magnetic resonance imaging to elucidate the specific functional contribution of this region to reading and found that (1) unlike words, repetition of pseudowords (“solst-solst”) did not produce a neural priming effect in this region, (2) orthographically related words such as “corner-corn” did produce a neural priming effect, but (3) this orthographic priming effect was reduced when prime-target pairs were semantically related (“teacher-teach”). These findings conflict with the notion of stored visual word forms and instead suggest that this region acts as an interface between visual form information and higher order stimulus properties such as its associated sound and meaning. More importantly, this function is not specific to reading but is also engaged when processing any meaningful visual stimulus.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2004) 16 (9): 1552–1561.
Published: 01 November 2004
AbstractView article PDF
Functional neuroimaging has demonstrated reduced activation correlated with behavioral priming effects, a finding generally interpreted in terms of facilitated retrieval of target items in the context of related primes. Without a neutral prime, however, one cannot separate facilitatory effects of related primes from inhibitory effects of unrelated primes. Here we report an auditory semantic priming paradigm with congruent (“The boy bounced the ball ”), neutral (“The next item is ball ”), and incongruent (“Pasta is my favorite kind of ball ”) sentence trials. As previously reported, reduced left inferior prefrontal cortex activation was observed for congruent relative to incongruent trials; however, the neutral condition allowed us to show that the effect arose from increased activation in the incongruent condition rather than reduced activation for congruent trials. Our results suggest that the left inferior prefrontal cortex inhibits interference from prepotent representations in order to select a task-appropriate target, and is consistent with its broader role in behavioral inhibition.
Semantic Processing in the Left Inferior Prefrontal Cortex: A Combined Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2003) 15 (1): 71–84.
Published: 01 January 2003
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The involvement of the left inferior prefrontal cortex (LIPC) in phonological processing is well established from both lesion-deficit studies with neurological patients and functional neuroimaging studies of normals. Its involvement in semantic processing, on the other hand, is less clear. Although many imaging studies have demonstrated LIPC activation during semantic tasks, this may be due to implicit phonological processing. This article presents two experiments investigating semantic functions in the LIPC. Results from a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment demonstrated that both semantic and phonological processing activated a common set of areas within this region. In addition, there was a reliable increase in activation for semantic relative to phonological decisions in the anterior LIPC while the opposite comparison (phonological vs. semantic decisions) revealed an area of enhanced activation within the posterior LIPC. A second experiment used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to temporarily interfere with neural information processing in the anterior portion of the LIPC to determine whether this region was essential for normal semantic performance. Both repetitive and single pulse TMS significantly slowed subjects' reactions for the semantic but not for the perceptual control task. Our results clarify the functional anatomy of the LIPC by demonstrating that anterior and posterior regions contribute to both semantic and phonological processing, albeit to different extents. In addition, the findings go beyond simply establishing a correlation between semantic processing and activation in the LIPC and demonstrate that a transient disruption of processing selectively interfered with semantic processing.
Testing for Dual Brain Processing Routes in Reading: A Direct Contrast of Chinese Character and Pinyin Reading Using fMRI
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2002) 14 (7): 1088–1098.
Published: 01 October 2002
AbstractView article PDF
Chinese offers a unique tool for testing the effects of word form on language processing during reading. The processes of letter-mediated grapheme-to-phoneme translation and phonemic assembly (assembled phonology) critical for reading and spelling in any alphabetic orthography are largely absent when reading nonalphabetic Chinese characters. In contrast, script-to-sound translation based on the script as a whole (addressed phonology) is absent when reading the Chinese alphabetic sound symbols known as pinyin, for which the script-to-sound translation is based exclusively on assembled phonology. The present study aims to contrast patterns of brain activity associated with the different cognitive mechanisms needed for reading the two scripts. fMRI was used with a block design involving a phonological and lexical task in which subjects were asked to decide whether visually presented, paired Chinese characters or pinyin “sounded like” a word. Results demonstrate that reading Chinese characters and pinyin activate a common brain network including the inferior frontal, middle, and inferior temporal gyri, the inferior and superior parietal lobules, and the extrastriate areas. However, some regions show relatively greater activation for either pinyin or Chinese reading. Reading pinyin led to a greater activation in the inferior parietal cortex bilaterally, the precuneus, and the anterior middle temporal gyrus. In contrast, activation in the left fusiform gyrus, the bilateral cuneus, the posterior middle temporal, the right inferior frontal gyrus, and the bilateral superior frontal gyrus were greater for nonalphabetic Chinese reading. We conclude that both alphabetic and nonalphabetic scripts activate a common brain network for reading. Overall, there are no differences in terms of hemispheric specialization between alphabetic and nonalphabetic scripts. However, differences in language surface form appear to determine relative activation in other regions. Some of these regions (e.g., the inferior parietal cortex for pinyin and fusiform gyrus for Chinese characters) are candidate regions for specialized processes associated with reading via predominantly assembled (pinyin) or addressed (Chinese character) procedures.