Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 219, Issue 2, pp 461–471

Experimental induction of reading difficulties in normal readers provides novel insights into the neurofunctional mechanisms of visual word recognition

  • Stefan Heim
  • Ralph Weidner
  • Ann-Christin von Overheidt
  • Nicole Tholen
  • Marion Grande
  • Katrin Amunts
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00429-013-0509-7

Cite this article as:
Heim, S., Weidner, R., von Overheidt, AC. et al. Brain Struct Funct (2014) 219: 461. doi:10.1007/s00429-013-0509-7

Abstract

Phonological and visual dysfunctions may result in reading deficits like those encountered in developmental dyslexia. Here, we use a novel approach to induce similar reading difficulties in normal readers in an event-related fMRI study, thus systematically investigating which brain regions relate to different pathways relating to orthographic-phonological (e.g. grapheme-to-phoneme conversion, GPC) vs. visual processing. Based upon a previous behavioural study (Tholen et al. 2011), the retrieval of phonemes from graphemes was manipulated by lowering the identifiability of letters in familiar vs. unfamiliar shapes. Visual word and letter processing was impeded by presenting the letters of a word in a moving, non-stationary manner. FMRI revealed that the visual condition activated cytoarchitectonically defined area hOC5 in the magnocellular pathway and area 7A in the right mesial parietal cortex. In contrast, the grapheme manipulation revealed different effects localised predominantly in bilateral inferior frontal gyrus (left cytoarchitectonic area 44; right area 45) and inferior parietal lobule (including areas PF/PFm), regions that have been demonstrated to show abnormal activation in dyslexic as compared to normal readers. This pattern of activation bears close resemblance to recent findings in dyslexic samples both behaviourally and with respect to the neurofunctional activation patterns. The novel paradigm may thus prove useful in future studies to understand reading problems related to distinct pathways, potentially providing a link also to the understanding of real reading impairments in dyslexia.

Keywords

Reading Disorder fMRI Functional magnetic resonance imaging Model Phonology Visual processing Magnocellular Lexical decision Word Pseudoword 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Heim
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ralph Weidner
    • 5
  • Ann-Christin von Overheidt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nicole Tholen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marion Grande
    • 3
  • Katrin Amunts
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Section Structural Functional Brain Mapping, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, Medical SchoolRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Research Centre Jülich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1)JülichGermany
  3. 3.Section Clinical and Cognitive Neurosciences, Department of Neurology, Medical SchoolRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  4. 4.JARA-Translational Brain MedicineJülich and AachenGermany
  5. 5.Research Centre Jülich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-3)JülichGermany

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