Brain Topography

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1014–1028 | Cite as

Optical Mapping of Brain Activation and Connectivity in Occipitotemporal Cortex During Chinese Character Recognition

  • Zhishan Hu
  • Juan ZhangEmail author
  • Tania Alexandra Couto
  • Shiyang Xu
  • Ping Luan
  • Zhen YuanEmail author
Original Paper


In this study, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was used to examine the brain activation and connectivity in occipitotemporal cortex during Chinese character recognition (CCR). Eighteen healthy participants were recruited to perform a well-designed task with three categories of stimuli (real characters, pseudo characters, and checkerboards). By inspecting the brain activation difference and its relationship with behavioral data, the left laterality during CCR was clearly identified in the Brodmann area (BA) 18 and 19. In addition, our novel findings also demonstrated that the bilateral superior temporal gyrus (STG), bilateral BA 19, and left fusiform gyrus were also involved in high-level lexical information processing such as semantic and phonological ones. Meanwhile, by examining functional brain networks, we discovered that the right BA 19 exhibited enhanced brain connectivity. In particular, the connectivity in the right fusiform gyrus, right BA 19, and left STG showed significant correlation with the performance of CCR. Consequently, the combination of fNIRS technique with functional network analysis paves a new avenue for improved understanding of the cognitive mechanism underlying CCR.


Chinese character recognition fNIRS Visual word form Brain connectivity 



This study was supported by MYRG2014-00093-FHS, MYRG2015-00036-FHS, MYRG2016-00110-FHS, MYRG2015-00221-FED, MYRG2016-00193-FED, MYRG2017-00217-FED grants from the University of Macau in Macau, and FDCT 026/2014/A1 and FDCT 025/2015/A1 grants from Macao government. Z.Y., J.Z., and Z.H. designed research and wrote the paper; Z.H. and S.X. performed research and analyzed data; T.A.C. double checked the data, proofread the manuscript, and discussed with the authors during the revision; P.L. joined the discussion during the revision and provided professional opinion as an expert in neurology. We gratefully acknowledge the constructive comments from the anonymous reviewer, which help significantly improve the quality of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioimaging Core, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of MacauMacauChina
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of MacauMacauChina
  3. 3.Shenzhen University Health Science CenterShenzhenChina

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