Navigation Links
'Word-vision' brain area confirmed

Humans have an uncanny ability to skim through text, instantly recognizing words by their shape--even though writing developed only about 6000 years ago--long after humans evolved. Thus, neuroscientists have hotly debated whether an area of the cortex called the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is truly a specific and necessary area for recognizing words.

Functional MRI scans have shown that the area specifically activates when people read, as opposed to recognizing other objects, such as faces or houses. And people with lesions in the region lose the ability to recognize whole words--reduced to letter-by-letter reading. However, fMRI studies cannot demonstrate a causal role for the VWFA, and lesions involving the VWFA invariably involved other regions as well.

Now, a patient whose surgery to relieve epilepsy specifically disrupted the VWFA has given researchers, led by Laurent Cohen of the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, an opportunity to demonstrate that the region does indeed play a causal role in the ability to recognize words.

The researchers reported in the April 20, 2006, issue of Neuron the results of reading, language, and object recognition tests both before and after the surgery on the 46-year-old man. They found his reading capability before surgery to be normal. However, tests after surgery showed very different results.

"Although we studied reading more extensively than the perception of other types of visual stimuli, our patient presented a clear-cut reading impairment following surgery, while his performance remained flawless in object recognition and naming, face processing, and general language abilities," reported the researchers. "Such selectivity may be difficult to observe in patients with more customary lesions resulting from strokes or tumors, which often affect a larger extent of cortex and white matter. The small size of the present lesion thus provides precious support to the idea of partial regional selectivity for word perception in the ventral cortex," they wrote.

Importantly, the researchers observed that before the surgery, the patient could recognize long words as quickly as short ones; but after the surgery, the recognition time increased linearly as a function of word length. Such findings indicated that the patient had been reduced to recognizing words letter by letter.

"How could there be a piece of neural tissue dedicated to a recently invented cognitive skill like word recognition?" wondered Alex Martin in a preview of the paper in the same issue of Neuron. Nevertheless, Martin commented, Cohen and his colleagues "report a unique set of findings in favor of the existence of the VWFA that will surely add fuel to the debate." He concluded that "The single case study…provides compelling evidence that the VWFA plays a causal role in the chain of neural events that underlie normal reading."


Source:Cell Press

Related biology news :

1. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
2. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
3. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
4. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
5. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
6. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
7. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
8. Birds brains reveal source of songs
9. Loves all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive
10. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
11. A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain
Post Your Comments:

(Date:6/9/2016)... attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, ... employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... von Nepal hat ... Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung ... in der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. ... Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics & ... & Other Service  The latest report from ... of the global Border Security market . Visiongain ... billion in 2016. Now: In November 2015 ... and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- Regular discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt ... said Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the ... pointed to the country,s inflation target, which is set by ... "In certain areas there needs to ... goals, why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... find the most commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings ... here to read it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   Boston Biomedical , an industry leader ... target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its lead ... Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ... gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an orally ... stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is currently ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
Breaking Biology Technology: