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Ekaterina Pechenkova, Rosa Vlasova, Yuliya Berezutskaya, Valentin Sinitsyn; One-back task functional localizer for visual word form area reveals inverse pattern of activation in readers of Russian. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):531. doi: 10.1167/12.9.531.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The evidence on whether there is a specialized brain area selectively responding to visually presented familiar words is highly controversial. One recent piece of evidence is provided by Wang et al. (2011) who have found greater activation for artificial versus real Chinese characters in the part of fusiform gyrus which usually manifests a greater response to words than to other types of visual stimuli (thus often considered as visual word form area, VWFA) and attributed their result to the one-back task performed by participants during the scan. We have observed similar inverse pattern of activation when contrasting familiar nouns with stimuli in unfamiliar script in readers of Russian who also performed one-back task. In 2 runs of a block-designed fMRI experiment 14 native speakers of Russian, none of whom were able to read Armenian or Chinese, viewed 25-second series of 6-character strings presented one-by-one at the center of the screen. The strings were either high frequency Russian or Armenian nouns, or words/phrases in Chinese, or consisted of identical keyboard symbols (e.g. ######). Participants raised up their thumb every time they saw two identical items in a row. When compared to any of the other three type of stimulus, Russian nouns produced higher activation in classic speech areas (left inferior frontal and superior temporal gyri), but not in fusiform gyrus. At the same time, both Armenian and Chinese stimuli produced greater bilateral mid-fusiform activation than Russian nouns. Chinese elicited slightly higher fusiform activation than Armenian, and neither type of unfamiliar writing activated the set of classic speech areas. This pattern of results suggests that the putative VWFA in fusiform gyrus may not be dedicated to stimulus-specific bottom-up processing of written words, and activity in this area may be modulated by task demands.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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