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      The visual word form area: expertise for reading in the fusiform gyrus

      , ,
      Trends in Cognitive Sciences
      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Brain imaging studies reliably localize a region of visual cortex that is especially responsive to visual words. This brain specialization is essential to rapid reading ability because it enhances perception of words by becoming specifically tuned to recurring properties of a writing system. The origin of this specialization poses a challenge for evolutionary accounts involving innate mechanisms for functional brain organization. We propose an alternative account, based on studies of other forms of visual expertise (i.e. bird and car experts) that lead to functional reorganization. We argue that the interplay between the unique demands of word reading and the structural constraints of the visual system lead to the emergence of the Visual Word Form Area.

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          Most cited references42

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          The distributed human neural system for face perception

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            Disruption of posterior brain systems for reading in children with developmental dyslexia.

            Converging evidence indicates a functional disruption in the neural systems for reading in adults with dyslexia. We examined brain activation patterns in dyslexic and nonimpaired children during pseudoword and real-word reading tasks that required phonologic analysis (i.e., tapped the problems experienced by dyslexic children in sounding out words). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study 144 right-handed children, 70 dyslexic readers, and 74 nonimpaired readers as they read pseudowords and real words. Children with dyslexia demonstrated a disruption in neural systems for reading involving posterior brain regions, including parietotemporal sites and sites in the occipitotemporal area. Reading skill was positively correlated with the magnitude of activation in the left occipitotemporal region. Activation in the left and right inferior frontal gyri was greater in older compared with younger dyslexic children. These findings provide neurobiological evidence of an underlying disruption in the neural systems for reading in children with dyslexia and indicate that it is evident at a young age. The locus of the disruption places childhood dyslexia within the same neurobiological framework as dyslexia, and acquired alexia, occurring in adults.
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              Dyslexia: cultural diversity and biological unity.

              The recognition of dyslexia as a neurodevelopmental disorder has been hampered by the belief that it is not a specific diagnostic entity because it has variable and culture-specific manifestations. In line with this belief, we found that Italian dyslexics, using a shallow orthography which facilitates reading, performed better on reading tasks than did English and French dyslexics. However, all dyslexics were equally impaired relative to their controls on reading and phonological tasks. Positron emission tomography scans during explicit and implicit reading showed the same reduced activity in a region of the left hemisphere in dyslexics from all three countries, with the maximum peak in the middle temporal gyrus and additional peaks in the inferior and superior temporal gyri and middle occipital gyrus. We conclude that there is a universal neurocognitive basis for dyslexia and that differences in reading performance among dyslexics of different countries are due to different orthographies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Trends in Cognitive Sciences
                Trends in Cognitive Sciences
                Elsevier BV
                13646613
                July 2003
                July 2003
                : 7
                : 7
                : 293-299
                Article
                10.1016/S1364-6613(03)00134-7
                12860187
                b98de7e8-e35c-4af2-9b54-aa8d0b0b0c3c
                © 2003

                https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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