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Early brain activity sheds new light on the neural basis of reading
Date:4/27/2009

UK. This is an advanced neuroscientific tool, which offers both excellent temporal (in milliseconds) and spatial (in millimetres) resolution of whole brain activity. Because the researchers were primarily interested in the highly automatized processing of words, they used an implicit task that required participants to monitor the colour of a small red cross and to press a button as soon as the colour changed. This was interspersed with words, consonant strings and faces that were shown for 300 ms, but which were not important to solve the task.

The authors found key differences in the early brain activity of normal adults when they were reading words compared to reading consonant strings and seeing faces. Time-frequency analyses showed a left-lateralized inferior frontal gyrus (pars opercularis) response to words between 100-250 ms in the beta frequency band that was significantly stronger than the response to consonant strings or faces. The left inferior frontal gyrus response to words peaked at ~130 ms. This response was significantly later in time than the left middle occipital gyrus, which peaked at ~115 ms, but not significantly different from the peak response in the left mid fusiform gyrus, which peaked at ~140 ms, at a location coincident with the fMRI-defined visual word form area (VWFA). Significant responses were also detected to words in other parts of the reading network, including the anterior middle temporal gyrus, the left posterior middle temporal gyrus, the angular and supramarginal gyri, and the left superior temporal gyrus.

The left inferior frontal gyrus is located in the front of the brain. This is a key region of the language brain and lesions can lead to the inability to articulate words. In the context of the experiment, the inferior frontal gyrus appears to play a key role integrating the visual and language aspects of reading.

Reading problems are common. Further research could identify whether the present findin
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Contact: Rebecca Walton
rwalton@plos.org
44-122-346-3333
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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