Pictures of a thousand words: Investigating the neural mechanisms of reading with extremely rapid event-related fMRI

Tal Yarkoni, Nicole K. Speer, David A. Balota, Mark P. McAvoy, Jeffrey M. Zacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reading is one of the most important skills human beings can acquire, but has proven difficult to study naturalistically using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We introduce a novel Event-Related Reading (ERR) fMRI approach that enables reliable estimation of the neural correlates of single-word processing during reading of rapidly presented narrative text (200-300ms /word). Application to an fMRI experiment in which subjects read coherent narratives and made no overt responses revealed widespread effects of orthographic, phonological, contextual, and semantic variables on brain activation. Word-level variables predicted activity in classical language areas as well as the inferotemporal visual word form area, specifically supporting a role for the latter in mapping visual forms onto articulatory or acoustic representations. Additional analyses demonstrated that ERR results replicate across experiments and predict reading comprehension. The ERR approach represents a powerful and extremely flexible new approach for studying reading and language behavior with fMRI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-987
Number of pages15
JournalNeuroImage
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2008

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