The neural basis of lip-reading capabilities is altered by early visual deprivation.
ABSTRACT The present study investigated the neural basis of lip-reading in patients treated for congenital bilateral cataracts using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These patients represent a model to study the role of visual experience in early infancy for the development of visual functions. Short video clips with an adult speaker's lips mouthing different words were presented. The participants were asked to indicate whether the current word was the same as the previous one (one-back matching task). A control condition consisted of the same stimuli but with the task to judge whether the position of a small black dot superimposed on the lips changed location between trials. During both tasks, neural activity as indexed by fMRI, and behavioral data were recorded. The cataract patients' lip-reading performance was worse than that of a group of normally sighted controls, matched for age, gender, and education. By contrast, these groups did not differ in the visual control task. Only the control group showed reliable lip-reading specific activations in superior and middle temporal areas and in right parietal cortex, resulting in a significant group effect for these brain areas. Additional control participants with a late onset of visual impairments matching those of the cataract group showed comparable behavioral performance and similar fMRI activations in superior temporal areas as the normally sighted controls. These results suggest that a sensitive phase in early infancy might exist during which visual acuity must be sufficiently high to discriminate lip movements in order to allow for the emergence of a regular neural lip-reading system.
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ABSTRACT: This article illustrates how functional neuroimaging can be used to test the validity of neurological and cognitive models of language. Three models of language are described: the 19th Century neurological model which describes both the anatomy and cognitive components of auditory and visual word processing, and 2 20th Century cognitive models that are not constrained by anatomy but emphasise 2 different routes to reading that are not present in the neurological model. A series of functional imaging studies are then presented which show that, as predicted by the 19th Century neurologists, auditory and visual word repetition engage the left posterior superior temporal and posterior inferior frontal cortices. More specifically, the roles Wernicke and Broca assigned to these regions lie respectively in the posterior superior temporal sulcus and the anterior insula. In addition, a region in the left posterior inferior temporal cortex is activated for word retrieval, thereby providing a second route to reading, as predicted by the 20th Century cognitive models. This region and its function may have been missed by the 19th Century neurologists because selective damage is rare. The angular gyrus, previously linked to the visual word form system, is shown to be part of a distributed semantic system that can be accessed by objects and faces as well as speech. Other components of the semantic system include several regions in the inferior and middle temporal lobes. From these functional imaging results, a new anatomically constrained model of word processing is proposed which reconciles the anatomical ambitions of the 19th Century neurologists and the cognitive finesse of the 20th Century cognitive models. The review focuses on single word processing and does not attempt to discuss how words are combined to generate sentences or how several languages are learned and interchanged. Progress in unravelling these and other related issues will depend on the integration of behavioural, computational and neurophysiological approaches, including neuroimaging.Journal of Anatomy 11/2000; 197 Pt 3:335-59. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to delineate the neural pathways involved in processing concrete and abstract words using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Word and pseudoword stimuli were presented visually, one at a time, and the participant was required to make a lexical decision. Lexical decision epochs alternated with a resting baseline. In each lexical decision epoch, the stimuli were either concrete words and pseudowords, or abstract words and pseudowords. Behavioral data indicated that, as with previous research, concrete word stimuli were processed more efficiently than abstract word stimuli. Analysis of the fMRI data indicated that processing of word stimuli, compared to the baseline condition, was associated with neural activation in the bilateral fusiform gyrus, anterior cingulate, left middle temporal gyrus, right posterior superior temporal gyrus, and left and right inferior frontal gyrus. A direct comparison between the abstract and concrete stimuli epochs yielded a significant area of activation in the right anterior temporal cortex. The results are consistent with recent positron emission tomography work showing right hemisphere activation during processing of abstract representations of language. The results are interpreted as support for a right hemisphere neural pathway in the processing of abstract word representations.Human Brain Mapping 02/1999; 7(4):225-33. · 6.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to localize brain areas that were active during the observation of actions made by another individual. Object- and non-object-related actions made with different effectors (mouth, hand and foot) were presented. Observation of both object- and non-object-related actions determined a somatotopically organized activation of premotor cortex. The somatotopic pattern was similar to that of the classical motor cortex homunculus. During the observation of object-related actions, an activation, also somatotopically organized, was additionally found in the posterior parietal lobe. Thus, when individuals observe an action, an internal replica of that action is automatically generated in their premotor cortex. In the case of object-related actions, a further object-related analysis is performed in the parietal lobe, as if the subjects were indeed using those objects. These results bring the previous concept of an action observation/execution matching system (mirror system) into a broader perspective: this system is not restricted to the ventral premotor cortex, but involves several somatotopically organized motor circuits.European Journal of Neuroscience 02/2001; 13(2):400-4. · 3.75 Impact Factor