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Writing affects the brain network of reading in Chinese: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

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Abstract

We examined the hypothesis that learning to write Chinese characters influences the brain's reading network for characters. Students from a college Chinese class learned 30 characters in a character-writing condition and 30 characters in a pinyin-writing condition. After learning, functional magnetic resonance imaging collected during passive viewing showed different networks for reading Chinese characters and English words, suggesting accommodation to the demands of the new writing system through short-term learning. Beyond these expected differences, we found specific effects of character writing in greater activation (relative to pinyin writing) in bilateral superior parietal lobules and bilateral lingual gyri in both a lexical decision and an implicit writing task. These findings suggest that character writing establishes a higher quality representation of the visual-spatial structure of the character and its orthography. We found a greater involvement of bilateral sensori-motor cortex (SMC) for character-writing trained characters than pinyin-writing trained characters in the lexical decision task, suggesting that learning by doing invokes greater interaction with sensori-motor information during character recognition. Furthermore, we found a correlation of recognition accuracy with activation in right superior parietal lobule, right lingual gyrus, and left SMC, suggesting that these areas support the facilitative effect character writing has on reading. Finally, consistent with previous behavioral studies, we found character-writing training facilitates connections with semantics by producing greater activation in bilateral middle temporal gyri, whereas pinyin-writing training facilitates connections with phonology by producing greater activation in right inferior frontal gyrus. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Audio-assisted reading (reading-while-listening) was commonly used as a pedagogical method in English (L2) learning. Numerous studies had reported its efficacy in English (L2) reading. Its efficacy in reading comprehension has been inconclusive due to the lack of studies on the relationship among attention, cognitive load and L2 reading comprehension, with the possibility that the synchronous auditory input lessens attention to the visual input. We present a study of 41 Mandarin-speaking 8-year-old children reading English texts in three modes in a between-participants design. Data of cognitive load, comprehension scores and attention were fitted to a formal mathematical model, which confirmed that influences on L2 reading comprehension could be captured by interactions between attention and cognitive load. Based on the findings, three implications regarding how to appropriately apply auditory-assistant tools to L2 reading were generated.
Article
Objective: To explore the differences of functional brain networks in processing auditory phonological tasks between Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals and Mandarin monolinguals. Methods: 31 Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals and 31 Mandarin monolinguals performed auditory rhyming tasks under a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. Bilinguals performed two language tasks (Cantonese, CC; Mandarin, CM), while monolinguals performed only one task (Mandarin, MM). Graph theory and network-based statistic (NBS) analyses were used to reveal the differences of functional brain networks among CC, CM and MM. Results: The functional brain networks of CC, CM and MM were all small-world, and there were no differences in network properties, but widespread differences in functional connectivity among distributed brain regions. Conclusions: The Cantonese-Mandarin bilingualism and Mandarin monolingualism shared similar efficient topological structure of brain network for auditory phonological processing, but varied in widespread functional connectivity. And the two languages within bilingualism employed different functional brain networks for auditory phonological processing.
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How do early bilingual experiences influence children’s neural architecture for word processing? Dual language acquisition can yield universal influences that generalize across bilinguals, as well as language-specific influences stemming from a given language pairing. To investigate these effects, we examined bilingual English speakers of Chinese or Spanish, and English monolinguals, all raised in the US (N = 152, ages 5-10). Children completed an English morphological word processing task during fNIRS neuroimaging. The findings revealed both language-specific and universal bilingual effects. The language-specific effects were that Chinese and Spanish bilinguals showed principled differences in their neural organization for English lexical morphology. The universal bilingual effects were that in both bilingual groups, increased home language proficiency was associated with stronger left superior temporal gyrus (STG) activation when processing the word structures that are most dissimilar from English. The findings inform theories of language and brain development by illuminating experience-based plasticity of the developing brain in children with diverse linguistic experiences.
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While phonological skills have been found to be correlated with reading across different writing systems, recent findings have shown that developmental dyslexia in Chinese individuals has multiple deficits, and no single factor has ever been identified as crucial for learning this writing system. To examine whether a deficit in the phonological or another cognitive domain is a necessary or sufficient condition for Chinese reading disability, this study examined the cognitive profiles of 521 good readers and 502 dyslexic readers in Chinese primary schools using a battery of behavioral measures covering phonological, visual, orthographic, visual-motor coordination and working memory skills. The results showed that among all cognitive measures, phonological skills correlated more strongly with character reading performance but that poor phonological skills did not necessarily or sufficiently lead to poor reading performance in Chinese.
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Niniejszy artykuł podejmuje kwestie wpływu uwarunkowań neurobiologicznych oraz czynników kulturowych na sposoby zdobywania i przetwarzania informacji, co z kolei determinuje wybór sposobów uczenia się. W artykule omówiona została kwestia preferencji półkulowych w kontekście edukacyjnym. Podstawą wywodu oraz przyczynkiem do podjęcia badań sondażowych jest hipoteza, że osoby wychowane w kulturze chińskiej i posługujące się językiem mandaryńskim jako ojczystym częściej stosują strategie prawopółkulowe niż przedstawiciele kultury Zachodu, których język ojczysty różni się znacząco od mandaryńskiego w zakresie systemu fonetyczno-fonologicznego, leksyki, pisma oraz gramatyki. W części badawczej zaprezentowano wyniki obserwacji i badań sondażowych przeprowadzonych wśród słuchaczy studiów polonistycznych pochodzących z Chin. Podstawowy cel obserwacji stanowiła identyfikacja stosowanych przez nich metod i technik uczenia się. Wnioski płynące z badań zostały zinterpretowane w oparciu o czynniki kulturowe (język ojczysty i praktyki społeczne), które w sposób szczególny mogą wpływać na wybór strategii prawopółkulowych w procesie uczenia się języka obcego.
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Cantonese and Mandarin are logographic languages, and the phonology is the main difference between the two languages. It is unclear whether long-term experience of Cantonese-Mandarin bilingualism will shape different brain white matter structures of pathways related to phonological processing. 30 Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals and 30 Mandarin monolinguals completed diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) scans and phonological processing tasks. The tractography and TBSS were used to investigate the structural differences in the bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) between Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals and Mandarin monolinguals. Post-hoc correlation analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between the different structures with phonological processing skills. Compared to the Mandarin monolinguals, the Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals had higher fractional anisotropy (FA) along the left ILF, higher mean diffusivity (MD) in the clusters along the temporoparietal segment of SLF (tSLF), as well as higher axial diffusivity (AD) in the right tSLF, IFOF, bilateral ILF. The mean AD of the different voxels in the right IFOF and the mean FA of the different voxels in the left ILF were positively correlated with the inverse efficiency score (IES) of the Cantonese auditory and Mandarin visual rhyming judgment tasks respectively within the bilingual group. Long-term experience of Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals shape different brain white matter structures including right tSLF, IFOF, bilateral ILF. The bilinguals’ white matter showed higher diffusivity, especially in the axonal direction, than the monolinguals. These changes were related to bilinguals’ phonological processing.
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Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals are logographic-logographic bilinguals that provide a unique population for bilingual studies. Whole brain functional connectivity analysis makes up for the deficiencies of previous bilingual studies on the seed-based approach and helps give a complete picture of the brain connectivity profiles of logographic-logographic bilinguals. The current study is to explore the effect of the long-term logographic-logographic bilingual experience on the functional connectivity of the whole-brain network. Thirty Cantonese-Mandarin bilingual and 30 Mandarin monolingual college students were recruited in the study. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) was performed to investigate the whole-brain functional connectivity differences by network-based statistics (NBS), and the differences in network efficiency were investigated by graph theory between the two groups (false discovery rate corrected for multiple comparisons, q = 0.05). Compared with the Mandarin monolingual group, Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals increased functional connectivity between the bilateral frontoparietal and temporal regions and decreased functional connectivity in the bilateral occipital cortex and between the right sensorimotor region and bilateral prefrontal cortex. No significant differences in network efficiency were found between the two groups. Compared with the Mandarin monolinguals, Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals had no significant discrepancies in network efficiency. However, the Cantonese-Mandarin bilinguals developed a more strongly connected subnetwork related to language control, inhibition, phonological and semantic processing, and memory retrieval, whereas a weaker connected subnetwork related to visual and phonology processing, and speech production also developed.
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The study investigates whether learners’ demographics (e.g., age, education, and intelligence-IQ), language learning experience, and cognitive control predict Chinese (L2) reading comprehension in young adults. Thirty-four international students who studied mandarin Chinese in mainland China (10 females, 24 males) from Bangladesh, Burundi, Congo, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe were tested on a series of measures including demographic questionnaires, IQ test, two cognitive control tasks [Flanker Task measuring inhibition and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) measuring mental set shifting], and a Chinese reading comprehension test (HSK level 4). The results of correlation analyses showed that education, L2 learning history, L2 proficiency, and previous category errors of the WCST were significantly correlated with Chinese reading comprehension. Further multiple regression analyses indicated that Chinese learning history, IQ, and previous category errors of the WCST significantly predicted Chinese reading comprehension. These findings reveal that aside from IQ and the time spent on L2 learning, the component mental set shifting of cognitive control also predicts reading outcomes, which suggests that cognitive control has a place in reading comprehension models over and above traditional predictors of language learning experience.
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Cognitive science has recently shown a renewed interest on the benefit from training in handwriting (HW) when learning visual graphs, given that this learning experience improves more subsequent visual graph recognition than other forms of training. However, the underlying cognitive mechanism of this HW benefit has been elusive. Building on the 50 years of research on this topic, the present work outlines a theoretical approach to study this mechanism, specifying testable hypotheses that will allow distinguishing between confronting perspectives, i.e., symbolic accounts that hold that perceptual learning and visual analysis underpin the benefit from HW training vs. embodied sensorimotor accounts that argue for motoric representations as inner part of orthographic representations acquired via HW training. From the evidence critically revisited, we concluded that symbolic accounts are parsimonious and could better explain the benefit from HW training when learning visual graphs. The future challenge will be to put at test the detailed predictions presented here, so that the devil has no longer room in this equation.
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The article uses CiteSpace to analyze the research of Chinese character processing through two analyses. A document co-citation analysis of the research in the past 40 years has found ten obvious clusters and described their transitional pattern by timeline visualization and betweenness centrality measurement. Additionally, an emerging trend analysis has also been carried out to describe the current directions of research in the field within the past 5 years, from which we found that multi-method research and acquisition of Chinese literacy are the most productive domains. By converging the results of the two analyses, we came up with a framework of combination between cognitive processes and anatomical structure, as well as a framework of development trajectory for Chinese character awareness. The two frameworks can be used to make predictions and show future directions in these two domains and other related domains, such as the research of Chinese character processing by Chinese foreign language learners.
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Abundant behavioral studies have demonstrated high comorbidity of reading and handwriting difficulties in developmental dyslexia (DD), a neurological condition characterized by unexpectedly low reading ability despite adequate nonverbal intelligence and typical schooling. The neural correlates of handwriting deficits remain largely unknown, however, as well as the extent that handwriting deficits share common neural bases with reading deficits in DD. The present work used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain activity during handwriting and reading tasks in Chinese dyslexic children (n = 18) and age-matched controls (n = 23). Compared to controls, dyslexic children exhibited reduced activation during handwriting tasks in brain regions supporting sensory-motor processing (including supplementary motor area and postcentral gyrus) and visual-orthography processing (including bilateral precuneus and right cuneus). Among these regions, the left supplementary motor area and the right precuneus also showed a trend of reduced activation during reading tasks in dyslexics. Moreover, increased activation was found in the left inferior frontal gyrus and anterior cingulate cortex in dyslexics, which may reflect more efforts of executive control to compensate for the impairments of motor and visual-orthographic processing. Finally, dyslexic children exhibited aberrant functional connectivity among brain areas for cognitive control and sensory-motor processes during handwriting tasks. Together, these findings suggest that handwriting deficits in DD are associated with functional abnormalities of multiple brain regions implicated in motor execution, visual-orthographic processing and cognitive control, providing important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Using graph theory, we examined topological organization of the language network in Chinese children with poor reading during an auditory rhyming task and a visual spelling task, compared to reading-matched controls and age-matched controls. First, poor readers (PR) showed reduced clustering coefficient in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and higher nodal efficiency in the bilateral superior temporal gyri (STG) during the visual task, indicating a less functionally specialized cluster around the left IFG and stronger functional links between bilateral STGs and other regions. Furthermore, PR adopted additional right-hemispheric hubs in both tasks, which may explain increased global efficiency across both tasks and lower normalized characteristic shortest path length in the visual task for the PR. These results underscore deficits in the left IFG during visual word processing and conform previous findings about compensation in the right hemisphere in children with poor reading.
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Previous research indicates that writing practice may be more beneficial than nonmotor practice for letter learning. Here, we report a training study comparing typing, visual, and writing learning conditions in adults ( N = 42). We investigated the behavioral consequences of learning modality on literacy learning and evaluated the nature of the learned letter representations. Specifically, the study addressed three questions. First, are the benefits of handwriting practice due to motor learning per se or to other incidental factors? Second, do the benefits generalize to untrained tasks? And third, does handwriting practice lead to learning and strengthening only of motor representations or of other types of representations as well? Our results clearly show that handwriting compared with nonmotor practice produces faster learning and greater generalization to untrained tasks than previously reported. Furthermore, only handwriting practice leads to learning of both motor and amodal symbolic letter representations.
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The Self-Administered Interview (SAI©) is a booklet in which eyewitnesses write down their memories of an incident without assistance. The SAI can gather a significant amount of eyewitness information, and completing the SAI soon after witnessing an event can improve later recall. This study aimed to reveal the factor of effectiveness of the SAI and specifically focused on the method of handwriting. Participants watched a video and immediately recalled the event in the three conditions: SAI-writing, SAI-speaking, and free recall (speaking). One week later, participants again recalled the event via free recall. The results showed that participants in the SAI-writing condition reported more correct information than those in the other conditions at both time points. This suggests that a factor of effectiveness of the SAI is the method of writing. Thus, initial written recall using the SAI could facilitate later recall in police investigative interviews. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Preprint
Handwriting (HW) training seems to boost recognition of visual graphs and learning to read more than other learning experiences. However, effects across studies appear to be variable and the underlying cognitive mechanism has been elusive. We thus conducted a meta-analysis on 50 independent experiments (with 1525 participants) to determine the magnitude of this HW benefit in visual graph recognition, while enlightening the underlying cognitive mechanism, by investigating four types of moderators: training program (type of control training, presence/absence of phonological training, and HW tasks adopted); set size and training regime (duration and frequency of training session and total amount of training); granularity of visual discrimination and perceptual learning tasks; and age of participants. The benefit from HW training was moderate-to-large and significant (Hedge’s g = 0.58, SE = .09) and was also modulated by type of control training (larger relative to motor, g = 0.78, than to visual control, g = 0.37), phonological training (larger when it was absent, g = 0.79, than present, g = 0.47), and granularity of visual discrimination (larger for fine-grained, g = 0.93, than coarse-grained, g = 0.19). These results are consistent with symbolic accounts that hold that the advantage from HW training in visual graph recognition is about perceptual learning rather than the motor act. Multiple meta-regressions also revealed that training regime modulated the HW benefit. We conclude that HW training is effective to improve visual graph recognition, and hence, is still relevant for literacy instruction in the present digital era.
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Writing sequences play an important role in handwriting of Chinese characters. However, little is known regarding the integral brain patterns and network mechanisms of processing Chinese character writing sequences. The present study decoded brain patterns during observing Chinese characters in motion by using multi-voxel pattern analysis, meta-analytic decoding analysis, and extended unified structural equation model. We found that perception of Chinese character writing sequence recruited brain regions not only for general motor schema processing, i.e., the right inferior frontal gyrus, shifting, and inhibition functions, i.e., the right postcentral gyrus and bilateral pre-SMA/dACC, but also for sensorimotor functions specific for writing sequences. More importantly, these brain regions formed a cooperatively top-down brain network where information was transmitted from brain regions for general motor schema processing to those specific for writing sequences. These findings not only shed light on the neural mechanisms of Chinese character writing sequences, but also extend the hierarchical control model on motor schema processing.
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Writing sequences play an important role in handwriting of Chinese characters. However, little is known regarding the integral brain patterns and network mechanisms of processing Chinese character writing sequences. The present study decoded brain patterns during observing Chinese characters in motion by using multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA), meta-analytic decoding analysis, and extended unified structural equation model (euSEM). We found that perception of Chinese character writing sequence recruited brain regions not only for general motor schema processing, i.e., the right inferior frontal gyrus, shifting and inhibition functions, i.e., the right postcentral gyrus and bilateral pre-SMA/dACC, but also for sensorimotor functions specific for writing sequences. More importantly, these brain regions formed a cooperatively top-down brain network where information was transmitted from brain regions for general motor schema processing to those specific for writing sequences. These findings not only shed light on the neural mechanisms of Chinese character writing sequences, but also extend the hierarchical control model on motor schema processing.
Chapter
Korean has a unique status compared to other alphabetic orthographies in terms of its phonology-orthography mapping and visual-orthographic configuration. In this chapter we reviewed recent literature on the neural bases of reading in Korean L1 to understand whether and how the characteristics of Korean orthography are reflected in the brain network. We then reviewed recent neuroimaging literature concerning the L1 effect on L2 reading with Korean L1. Evidence suggests that when reading English L2, native Korean readers engage the brain network similar to the Korean L1 network (i.e., assimilation). In contrast, when reading Chinese L2, the brain network involved is significantly different from the Korean L1 network (i.e., accommodation). The L2 brain network seems to be shaped by L1 experience. The chapter concluded with a discussion of future research directions.
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Learning to write words may strengthen orthographic representations and thus support word-specific recognition processes. This hypothesis applies especially to Chinese because its writing system encourages character-specific recognition that depends on accurate representation of orthographic form. We report 2 studies that test this hypothesis in adult learners of Chinese. In those studies, the researchers 1st compared the effects of an online writing tutor that included character handwriting with an instructional tutor that included reading only. The writing condition led to better performance on word recognition and on character-meaning links but not on the character-phonology link. In the 2nd experiment, we added an alphabetic (Pinyin) typing tutor to strengthen the phonology link and to control for manual motor activity during instruction. This experiment replicated the effects of writing on word recognition and character-meaning links, whereas alphabetic (Pinyin) typing supported only phonological representations and the character-phonology link. Theoretically, the studies suggest constituent-specific effects: writing on orthography and alphabetic coding on phonology. We suggest the mechanism for the writing effect is the refinement of visual-spatial information needed for character recognition and the addition of a sensory-motor memory that accompanies writing. The practical implication is that an integration of character handwriting and Pinyin typing promotes learning to read Chinese in a second language learning context. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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We present behavioral and anatomical evidence for a multi-component reading system in which different components are differentially weighted depending on culture-specific demands of orthography. Italian orthography is consistent, enabling reliable conversion of graphemes to phonemes to yield correct pronunciation of the word. English orthography is inconsistent, complicating mapping of letters to word sounds. In behavioral studies, Italian students showed faster word and non-word reading than English students. In two PET studies, Italians showed greater activation in left superior temporal regions associated with phoneme processing. In contrast, English readers showed greater activations, particularly for non-words, in left posterior inferior temporal gyrus and anterior inferior frontal gyrus, areas associated with word retrieval during both reading and naming tasks.
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Bilingual reading can require more than knowing two languages. Learners must acquire also the writing conventions of their second language, which can differ in its deep mapping principles (writing system) and its visual configurations (script). We review ERP (event-related potential) and fMRI studies of both Chinese-English bilingualism and Chinese second language learning that bear on the system accommodation hypothesis: the neural networks acquired for one system must be modified to accommodate the demands of a new system. ERP bilingual studies demonstrate temporal indicators of the brain's experience with L1 and L2 and with the frequency of encounters of words in L2. ERP learning studies show that early visual processing differences between L1 and L2 diminish during a second term of study. fMRI studies of learning converge in finding that learners recruit bilateral occipital-temporal and also middle frontal areas when reading Chinese, similar to the pattern of native speakers and different from alphabetic reading. The evidence suggests an asymmetry: alphabetic readers have a neural network that accommodates the demands of Chinese by recruiting neural structures less needed for alphabetic reading. Chinese readers have a neural network that partly assimilates English into the Chinese system, especially in the visual stages of word identification.
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This study investigated the development of visual chunking skills in the processing of Chinese characters among Hong Kong pupils. One-hundred-seventy-nine primary school students from first, second and fourth grades were administered a character copying task. Children as young as 6years of age were aware of character units and were able to apply visual chunking strategies when processing characters. Children in higher grades performed better than those in lower grades on every character type, and the types of errors they made revealed that their chunking level was higher than that of younger children. Differences between ability groups emerged in second grade and vanished in fourth grade, suggesting that children with a lower reading ability are slower to develop advanced chunking skills.
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The present study sought to identify cognitive abilities that might distinguish Hong Kong Chinese adolescents with dyslexia and to assess how these abilities were associated with Chinese word reading, word dictation, and reading comprehension. The cognitive skills of interest were morphological awareness, visual-orthographic knowledge, rapid naming, and verbal working memory. A total of 90 junior secondary school students, 30 dyslexic, 30 chronological age controls, and 30 reading level controls was tested on a range of cognitive and literacy tasks. Dyslexic students were less competent than the control students in all cognitive and literacy measures. The regression analyses also showed that verbal working memory, rapid naming, morphological awareness, and visual-orthographic knowledge were significantly associated with literacy performance. Findings underscore the importance of these cognitive skills for Chinese literacy acquisition. Overall, this study highlights the persistent difficulties of Chinese dyslexic adolescents who seem to have multiple causes for reading and spelling difficulties.
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There is consensus that the left hemisphere plays a dominant role in language processing, but functional imaging studies have shown that the right as well as the left posterior inferior frontal gyri (pIFG) are activated when healthy right-handed individuals make phonological word decisions. Here we used online transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to examine the functional relevance of the right pIFG for auditory and visual phonological decisions. Healthy right-handed individuals made phonological or semantic word judgements on the same set of auditorily and visually presented words while they received stereotactically guided TMS over the left, right or bilateral pIFG (n=14) or the anterior left, right or bilateral IFG (n=14). TMS started 100ms after word onset and consisted of four stimuli given at a rate of 10Hz and intensity of 90% of active motor threshold. Compared to TMS of aIFG, TMS of pIFG impaired reaction times and accuracy of phonological but not semantic decisions for visually and auditorily presented words. TMS over left, right or bilateral pIFG disrupted phonological processing to a similar degree. In a follow-up experiment, the intensity threshold for delaying phonological judgements was identical for unilateral TMS of left and right pIFG. These findings indicate that an intact function of right pIFG is necessary for accurate and efficient phonological decisions in the healthy brain with no evidence that the left and right pIFG can compensate for one another during online TMS. Our findings motivate detailed studies of phonological processing in patients with acute and chronic damage of the right pIFG.
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Developmental differences in phonological and orthographic processing in Chinese were examined in 9 year olds, 11 year olds, and adults using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Rhyming and spelling judgments were made to 2-character words presented sequentially in the visual modality. The spelling task showed greater activation than the rhyming task in right superior parietal lobule and right inferior temporal gyrus, and there were developmental increases across tasks bilaterally in these regions in addition to bilateral occipital cortex, suggesting increased involvement over age on visuo-orthographic analysis. The rhyming task showed greater activation than the spelling task in left superior temporal gyrus and there were developmental decreases across tasks in this region, suggesting reduced involvement over age on phonological representations. The rhyming and spelling tasks included words with conflicting orthographic and phonological information (i.e., rhyming words spelled differently or nonrhyming words spelled similarly) or nonconflicting information. There was a developmental increase in the difference between conflicting and nonconflicting words in left inferior parietal lobule, suggesting greater engagement of systems for mapping between orthographic and phonological representations. Finally, there were developmental increases across tasks in an anterior (Broadman area [BA] 45, 46) and posterior (BA 9) left inferior frontal gyrus, suggesting greater reliance on controlled retrieval and selection of posterior lexical representations.
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Positron emission tomography was used to investigate changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in neurologically normal subjects during word reading and word repetition. The blood flow in these conditions was compared with control conditions where subjects were presented with stimuli of comparable auditory and visual complexity to real words and said the same word on presentation of each stimulus. The control condition for word repetition (hearing spoken words presented backwards) resulted in bilateral activation of the superior temporal gyrus. Word repetition caused a significant increase in rCBF over this control condition in the left superior and middle temporal gyri. The control condition for word reading (seeing stimuli written in 'false fonts', i.e. non-existent letter-like forms) resulted in significant changes in rCBF bilaterally in the striate and extrastriate cortex. Word reading caused a significant increase in blood flow relative to this control in the posterior part of the left middle temporal gyrus. The implications of these results are discussed, and it is argued that they are consistent with localization of a lexicon for spoken word recognition in the middle part of the left superior and middle temporal gyri, and a lexicon for written word recognition in the posterior part of the left middle temporal gyrus.
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine how the brain responds to temporal compression of speech and to determine whether the same regions are also involved in phonological processes associated with reading. Recorded speech was temporally compressed to varying degrees and presented in a sentence verification task. Regions involved in phonological processing were identified in a separate scan using a rhyming judgment task with pseudowords compared to a lettercase judgment task. The left inferior frontal and left superior temporal regions (Broca's and Wernicke's areas), along with the right inferior frontal cortex, demonstrated a convex response to speech compression; their activity increased as compression increased, but then decreased when speech became incomprehensible. Other regions exhibited linear increases in activity as compression increased, including the middle frontal gyri bilaterally. The auditory cortices exhibited compression-related decreases bilaterally, primarily reflecting a decrease in activity when speech became incomprehensible. Rhyme judgments engaged two left inferior frontal gyrus regions (pars triangularis and pars opercularis), of which only the pars triangularis region exhibited significant compression-related activity. These results directly demonstrate that a subset of the left inferior frontal regions involved in phonological processing is also sensitive to transient acoustic features within the range of comprehensible speech.
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This monograph discusses research, theory, and practice relevant to how children learn to read English. After an initial overview of writing systems, the discussion summarizes research from developmental psychology on children's language competency when they enter school and on the nature of early reading development. Subsequent sections review theories of learning to read, the characteristics of children who do not learn to read (i.e., who have developmental dyslexia), research from cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience on skilled reading, and connectionist models of learning to read. The implications of the research findings for learning to read and teaching reading are discussed. Next, the primary methods used to teach reading (phonics and whole language) are summarized. The final section reviews laboratory and classroom studies on teaching reading. From these different sources of evidence, two inescapable conclusions emerge: (a) Mastering the alphabetic principle (that written symbols are associated with phonemes) is essential to becoming proficient in the skill of reading, and (b) methods that teach this principle directly are more effective than those that do not (especially for children who are at risk in some way for having difficulty learning to read). Using whole-language activities to supplement phonics instruction does help make reading fun and meaningful for children, but ultimately, phonics instruction is critically important because it helps beginning readers understand the alphabetic principle and learn new words. Thus, elementary-school teachers who make the alphabetic principle explicit are most effective in helping their students become skilled, independent readers. © 2001 Association for Psychological Science.
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Chinese offers a unique tool for testing the effects of word form on language processing during reading. The processes of letter-mediated grapheme-to-phoneme translation and phonemic assembly (assembled phonology) critical for reading and spelling in any alphabetic orthography are largely absent when reading nonalphabetic Chinese characters. In contrast, script-to-sound translation based on the script as a whole (addressed phonology) is absent when reading the Chinese alphabetic sound symbols known as pinyin, for which the script-to-sound translation is based exclusively on assembled phonology. The present study aims to contrast patterns of brain activity associated with the different cognitive mechanisms needed for reading the two scripts. fMRI was used with a block design involving a phonological and lexical task in which subjects were asked to decide whether visually presented, paired Chinese characters or pinyin "sounded like" a word. Results demonstrate that reading Chinese characters and pinyin activate a common brain network including the inferior frontal, middle, and inferior temporal gyri, the inferior and superior parietal lobules, and the extrastriate areas. However, some regions show relatively greater activation for either pinyin or Chinese reading. Reading pinyin led to a greater activation in the inferior parietal cortex bilaterally, the precuneus, and the anterior middle temporal gyrus. In contrast, activation in the left fusiform gyrus, the bilateral cuneus, the posterior middle temporal, the right inferior frontal gyrus, and the bilateral superior frontal gyrus were greater for nonalphabetic Chinese reading. We conclude that both alphabetic and nonalphabetic scripts activate a common brain network for reading. Overall, there are no differences in terms of hemispheric specialization between alphabetic and nonalphabetic scripts. However, differences in language surface form appear to determine relative activation in other regions. Some of these regions (e.g., the inferior parietal cortex for pinyin and fusiform gyrus for Chinese characters) are candidate regions for specialized processes associated with reading via predominantly assembled (pinyin) or addressed (Chinese character) procedures.
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Developmental dyslexia, characterized by unexplained difficulty in reading, is associated with behavioral deficits in phonological processing. Functional neuroimaging studies have shown a deficit in the neural mechanisms underlying phonological processing in children and adults with dyslexia. The present study examined whether behavioral remediation ameliorates these dysfunctional neural mechanisms in children with dyslexia. Functional MRI was performed on 20 children with dyslexia (8-12 years old) during phonological processing before and after a remediation program focused on auditory processing and oral language training. Behaviorally, training improved oral language and reading performance. Physiologically, children with dyslexia showed increased activity in multiple brain areas. Increases occurred in left temporo-parietal cortex and left inferior frontal gyrus, bringing brain activation in these regions closer to that seen in normal-reading children. Increased activity was observed also in right-hemisphere frontal and temporal regions and in the anterior cingulate gyrus. Children with dyslexia showed a correlation between the magnitude of increased activation in left temporo-parietal cortex and improvement in oral language ability. These results suggest that a partial remediation of language-processing deficits, resulting in improved reading, ameliorates disrupted function in brain regions associated with phonological processing and produces additional compensatory activation in other brain regions.
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The authors examine the implications of research on Chinese for theories of reading and propose the lexical constituency model as a general framework for word reading across writing systems. Word identities are defined by 3 interlinked constituents (orthographic, phonological, and semantic). The implemented model simulates the time course of graphic, phonological, and semantic priming effects, including immediate graphic facilitation followed by graphic inhibition with simultaneous phonological facilitation, a pattern unique to the Chinese writing system. Pseudocharacter primes produced only facilitation, supporting the model's assumption that lexical thresholds determine phonological and semantic, but not graphic, effects. More generally, both universal reading processes and writing system constraints exist. Although phonology is universal, its activation process depends on how the writing system structures graphic units.
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A large body of data supports the view that movement plays a crucial role in letter representation and suggests that handwriting contributes to the visual recognition of letters. If so, changing the motor conditions while children are learning to write by using a method based on typing instead of handwriting should affect their subsequent letter recognition performances. In order to test this hypothesis, we trained two groups of 38 children (aged 3-5 years) to copy letters of the alphabet either by hand or by typing them. After three weeks of learning, we ran two recognition tests, one week apart, to compare the letter recognition performances of the two groups. The results showed that in the older children, the handwriting training gave rise to a better letter recognition than the typing training.
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Language development entails four fundamental and interactive abilities: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Over the past four decades, a large body of evidence has indicated that reading acquisition is strongly associated with a child's listening skills, particularly the child's sensitivity to phonological structures of spoken language. Furthermore, it has been hypothesized that the close relationship between reading and listening is manifested universally across languages and that behavioral remediation using strategies addressing phonological awareness alleviates reading difficulties in dyslexics. The prevailing view of the central role of phonological awareness in reading development is largely based on studies using Western (alphabetic) languages, which are based on phonology. The Chinese language provides a unique medium for testing this notion, because logographic characters in Chinese are based on meaning rather than phonology. Here we show that the ability to read Chinese is strongly related to a child's writing skills and that the relationship between phonological awareness and Chinese reading is much weaker than that in reports regarding alphabetic languages. We propose that the role of logograph writing in reading development is mediated by two possibly interacting mechanisms. The first is orthographic awareness, which facilitates the development of coherent, effective links among visual symbols, phonology, and semantics; the second involves the establishment of motor programs that lead to the formation of long-term motor memories of Chinese characters. These findings yield a unique insight into how cognitive systems responsible for reading development and reading disability interact, and they challenge the prominent phonological awareness view. • dyslexia • phonological awareness • reading development • child language • reading Chinese
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Chinese characters are composed of a number of strokes, varying from 1 to 23. The strokes of each character have to be written in a precise order, which is codified in a number of rules, and which is learned in the process of literacy acquisition. The present study tested the hypothesis that stroke writing order has been coded in memory as an essential component of the orthographic knowledge of a character, and that this specific motor schema is used as a cue in lexical retrieval. In the first experiment reported here, fragments of Chinese characters consisting of “early” or of “late” strokes (namely strokes which are written first or last during writing) were pre-exposed to target characters to be named as fast as possible. The results indicated that “early” strokes were better retrieval cues for character names than “late” strokes. In the second experiment, subjects were requested to make same-different judgements about two characters which had in common either “early” or “late” strokes. Different characters sharing “early” strokes were more frequently erroneously judged as being identical than characters sharing “late” strokes.
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One of the central challenges in mastering English is becoming sensitive to consistency from spelling to sound (i.e. phonological consistency) and from sound to spelling (i.e. orthographic consistency). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined the neural correlates of consistency in 9–15-year-old Normal and Impaired Readers during a rhyming task in the visual modality. In line with our previous study [Bolger, D. J., Hornickel, J., Cone, N. E., Burman, D. D., & Booth, J. R. (in press). Neural correlates of orthographic and phonological consistency effects in children. Human Brain Mapping], for Normal Readers, lower phonological and orthographic consistency were associated with greater activation in several regions including bilateral inferior/middle frontal gyri, bilateral anterior cingulate cortex as well as left fusiform gyrus. Impaired Readers activated only bilateral anterior cingulate cortex in response to decreasing consistency. Group comparisons revealed that, relative to Impaired Readers, Normal Readers exhibited a larger response in this network for lower phonological consistency whereas orthographic consistency differences were limited. Lastly, brain–behavior correlations revealed a significant relationship between skill (i.e. Phonological Awareness and non-word decoding) and cortical consistency effects for Impaired Readers in left inferior/middle frontal gyri and left fusiform gyrus. Impaired Readers with higher skill showed greater activation for higher consistency. This relationship was reliably different from that of Normal Readers in which higher skill was associated with greater activation for lower consistency. According to single-route or connectionist models, these results suggest that Impaired Readers with higher skill devote neural resources to representing the mapping between orthography and phonology for higher consistency words, and therefore do not robustly activate this network for lower consistency words.
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The Chinese character is composed of a finite set of strokes whose order in writing follows consensual principles and is learnt through school education. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this study investigates the neural activity associated with the perception of writing sequences by asking participants to observe stroke-by-stroke display of characters. Violations were introduced by reversing the writing order of two or three successive strokes. Compared with the correct sequences, both types of violation engendered more activation in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) while the two-stroke reversal elicited additional activation in the supplementary motor area and the three-stroke reversal elicited additional activation in the left fusiform area and the right inferior temporal gyrus. Compared with either type of incorrect sequences, the correct sequences elicited activation in the bilateral dorsal premotor areas and left superior parietal lobule. These findings suggest that a domain-general sequence processing network is implicated in the perception of Chinese character writing and that the left fusiform encodes not only the visual configuration but also the dynamic aspect of the writing script.
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Word recognition research with alphabetical scripts has revealed a facilitatory neighborhood size effect, whereby naming of words with more orthographic neighbors is faster than that of words with fewer neighbors. Preliminary behavioral evidence in Chinese revealed both facilitatory and inhibitory neighborhood size effects, depending on whether there are higher-frequency neighbors (HFNs) than the target. This functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined the neural substrates of the neighborhood size effect with silent naming. Neighborhood size and the HFN factor were factorially manipulated. Behavioral results replicated previous findings showing that larger neighborhood size facilitated naming in the absence of HFNs, but inhibited naming in their presence. Imaging results identified greater activation in the left middle frontal gyrus for small than larger neighborhood size, and bilateral inferior frontal activations for the with-HFN condition as compared with the without-HFN condition. Critically, there was an interaction in the right middle occipital gyrus showing greater activation for large than for small neighborhood size in the absence of HFNs but no neighborhood size effect in their presence. The results support a proposal that, in addition to a facilitatory contribution from orthographic activation of neighborhoods, naming is also affected by whether there are higher-frequency neighbors, particularly in scripts with deep orthography, where orthographically similar words can be pronounced very differently.
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The perception of written letters reflects the action sequences that produce them. Faster recognition is observed for letters presented as sequences of strokes in a temporal order consistent with letter writing, compared to an inconsistent order. During a speeded letter identification task, parietal event-related potential (ERP) components were analysed separately for each stroke-frame in action-consistent and inconsistent stimulus sequences, during both passive and active (task-engaged) viewing. Electrophysiological data provided unique insights into stroke order priming by comparing local neural organisation during early, response-independent stages with later response-dependent stages. ERPs over posterior scalp areas revealed speeded visual processing for action-consistent stroke sequences prior to, and upon, letter completion. These signatures of perceptually facilitated letter processing were present in both active and passive viewing conditions, indicating that priming was not response-contingent, but rather an inherent part of visual letter perception. Stroke order priming is discussed in terms of matching stored letter production action codes, which upon activation provide top-down facilitation for visual processing of letters.
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Since Broca's studies on language processing, cortical functional specialization has been considered to be integral to efficient neural processing. A fundamental question in cognitive neuroscience concerns the type of learning that is required for functional specialization to develop. To address this issue with respect to the development of neural specialization for letters, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain activation patterns in pre-school children before and after different letter-learning conditions: a sensori-motor group practised printing letters during the learning phase, while the control group practised visual recognition. Results demonstrated an overall left-hemisphere bias for processing letters in these pre-literate participants, but, more interestingly, showed enhanced blood oxygen-level-dependent activation in the visual association cortex during letter perception only after sensori-motor (printing) learning. It is concluded that sensori-motor experience augments processing in the visual system of pre-school children. The change of activation in these neural circuits provides important evidence that 'learning-by-doing' can lay the foundation for, and potentially strengthen, the neural systems used for visual letter recognition.
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A new framework for the understanding of functional relationships between perception and action is discussed. According to this framework, perceived events and planned actions share a common representational domain (common-coding approach). Supporting evidence from two classes of experimental paradigms is presented: induction paradigms and interference paradigms. Induction paradigms study how certain stimuli induce certain actions by virtue of similarity. Evidence from two types of induction tasks is reviewed: sensorimotor synchronisation and spatial compatibility tasks. Interference paradigms study the mutual interference between the perception of ongoing events and the preparation and control of ongoing action. Again, evidence from two types of such tasks is reviewed, implying interference in either direction. It is concluded that the evidence available supports the common coding principle. A further general principle emerging from these studies is the action effect principle that is, the principle that cognitive representations of action effects play a critical role in the planning and control of these actions.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hong Kong, 2001. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 132-160).
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The present study sought to identify cognitive abilities that might distinguish Hong Kong Chinese adolescents with and without dyslexia and examined the cognitive profile of dyslexic adolescents in order to better understand this important problem. The performance of 27 Chinese adolescents with childhood diagnoses of dyslexia was compared with 27 adolescents of the same chronological age (CA) and 27 of matched reading level (RL) on measures of literacy and cognitive abilities: Chinese word reading, one-minute reading, reading comprehension, dictation, verbal short-term memory, rapid naming, visual-orthographic knowledge, morphological and phonological awareness. The results indicated that the dyslexic group scored lower than the CA group, but similar to the RL group, especially in the areas of rapid naming, visual-orthographic knowledge and morphological awareness, with over half having multiple deficits exhibited 2 or more cognitive areas. Furthermore, the number of cognitive deficits was associated with the degree of reading and spelling impairment. These findings suggest that adolescents with childhood diagnoses of dyslexia have persistent literacy difficulties and seem to have multiple causes for reading difficulties in Chinese.
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Functional specialization in the brain is considered a hallmark of efficient processing. It is therefore not surprising that there are brain areas specialized for processing letters. To better understand the causes of functional specialization for letters, we explore the emergence of this pattern of response in the ventral processing stream through a training paradigm. Previously, we hypothesized that the specialized response pattern seen during letter perception may be due in part to our experience in writing letters. The work presented here investigates whether or not this aspect of letter processing-the integration of sensorimotor systems through writing-leads to functional specialization in the visual system. To test this idea, we investigated whether or not different types of experiences with letter-like stimuli ("pseudoletters") led to functional specialization similar to that which exists for letters. Neural activation patterns were measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after three different types of training sessions. Participants were trained to recognize pseudoletters by writing, typing, or purely visual practice. Results suggested that only after writing practice did neural activation patterns to pseudoletters resemble patterns seen for letters. That is, neural activation in the left fusiform and dorsal precentral gyrus was greater when participants viewed pseudoletters than other, similar stimuli but only after writing experience. Neural activation also increased after typing practice in the right fusiform and left precentral gyrus, suggesting that in some areas, any motor experience may change visual processing. The results of this experiment suggest an intimate interaction among perceptual and motor systems during pseudoletter perception that may be extended to everyday letter perception.
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Computational studies suggest that acquisition of a motor skill involves learning an internal model of the dynamics of the task, which enables the brain to predict and compensate for mechanical behavior. During the hours that follow completion of practice, representation of the internal model gradually changes, becoming less fragile with respect to behavioral interference. Here, functional imaging of the brain demonstrates that within 6 hours after completion of practice, while performance remains unchanged, the brain engages new regions to perform the task; there is a shift from prefrontal regions of the cortex to the premotor, posterior parietal, and cerebellar cortex structures. This shift is specific to recall of an established motor skill and suggests that with the passage of time, there is a change in the neural representation of the internal model and that this change may underlie its increased functional stability.
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In a logographic language culture, repeated (hand) writing is a common memory strategy for learning letters and Chinese characters. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether this strategy facilitates children's memory for pseudologographic characters and foreign letters. It also explores which aspect of writing, the use of stroke orders or the writing action itself, is responsible for the effect. First, third, and fifth grade Japanese children participated in the study. Results showed that, for all the subjects, characters and letters were better recalled when learned by writing rather than by looking only (Experiments 1 and 4). The advantage of writing was decreased, however, when the proper writing action prevented (i.e., when subjects were instructed to trace or write without feedback; Experiments 3 and 4) but not when the proper stroke orders were prevented (i.e., when subjects were instructed to write in reverse or random orders; Experiment 2). The results indicate that the writing action, rather than the use of stroke orders, is responsible for the effect.
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Functional neuroimaging was used to investigate three factors that affect reading performance: first, whether a stimulus is a word or pronounceable non-word (lexicality), second, how often a word is encountered (frequency), and third, whether the pronunciation has a predictable spelling-to-sound correspondence (consistency). Comparisons between word naming (reading) and visual fixation scans revealed stimulus-related activation differences in seven regions. A left frontal region showed effects of consistency and lexicality, indicating a role in orthographic to phonological transformation. Motor cortex showed an effect of consistency bilaterally, suggesting that motoric processes beyond high-level representations of word phonology influence reading performance. Implications for the integration of these results into theoretical models of word reading are discussed.
Article
Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (ER-fMRI) was used to investigate how the human brain processes phonology and transforms a word's visual form (orthography) into phonological form during reading in logographic Chinese, a writing system that differs markedly from alphabetic languages. We found that reading aloud of irregular words produced larger MR signal intensity changes over extensive regions involving left infero-middle frontal cortex, left motor cortex, right infero-frontal gyri, bilateral anterior superior temporal areas, and anterior cingulate cortex. Right superior parietal lobule, the cuneus in bilateral visual cortex, and thalamus participated in the processing of irregular, but not regular, words. These findings were discussed in comparison to neuroimaging findings from alphabetic languages, as well as in relation to models of reading.
Article
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we examined three important dimensions of attentional control (selective attention, divided attention, and executive function) in 25 neurologically normal, right-handed men and women, using tasks involving the perception and processing of printed words, spoken words, or both. In the context of language-processing manipulations: selective attention resulted in increased activation at left hemisphere parietal sites as well as at inferior frontal sites, divided attention resulted in additional increases in activation at these same left hemisphere sites and was also uniquely associated with increased activation of homologous sites in the right hemisphere, and executive function (measured during a complex task requiring sequential decision-making) resulted in increased activation at frontal sites relative to all other conditions. Our findings provide support for the belief that specific functional aspects of attentional control in language processing involve widely distributed but distinctive cortical systems, with mechanisms associated with the control of perceptual selectivity involving primarily parietal and inferior frontal sites and executive function engaging specific sites in frontal cortex.
Article
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the neural substrates of component processes in verbal working memory. Based on behavioral research using manipulations of verbal stimulus type to dissociate storage, rehearsal, and executive components of verbal working memory, we designed a delayed serial recall task requiring subjects to encode, maintain, and overtly recall sets of verbal items for which phonological similarity, articulatory length, and lexical status were manipulated. By using a task with temporally extended trials, we were able to exploit the temporal resolution afforded by fMRI to partially isolate neural contributions to encoding, maintenance, and retrieval stages of task performance. Several regions commonly associated with maintenance, including supplementary motor, premotor, and inferior frontal areas, were found to be active across all three trial stages. Additionally, we found that left inferior frontal and supplementary motor regions showed patterns of stimulus and temporal sensitivity implicating them in distinct aspects of articulatory rehearsal, while no regions showed a pattern of sensitivity consistent with a role in phonological storage. Regional modulation by task difficulty was further investigated as a measure of executive processing. We interpret our findings as they relate to notions about the cognitive architecture underlying verbal working memory performance.
Article
This study examined the role of phonological awareness and visual-orthographic skills in Chinese reading acquisition. The subjects were 154 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th graders in Beijing who had learned an alphabetic script known as Hanyu Pinyin to help read Chinese characters. Children's performance on tests of various cognitive skills, reading ability, and pinyin knowledge were examined. Results of hierarchical regression analyses showed that (a) visual skills predicted reading success at lower grades; (b) pinyin knowledge and the ability to discriminate homophonic characters predicted reading success in Grades 2, 3, and 5; and (c) onset-rime awareness, but not phonemic awareness, predicted Chinese reading. This suggests that learning to read Chinese progresses from a logographic phase to an orthographic-phonological phase and that the nature of phonological awareness predicting reading success is contingent on the characteristics of the writing system.
Article
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to examine lexical processing in normal adults (20-35 years). Two tasks required only intramodal processing (spelling judgments with visual input and rhyming judgments with auditory input) and two tasks required cross-modal processing between phonologic and orthographic representations (spelling judgments with auditory input and rhyming judgments with visual input). Each task led to greater activation in the unimodal association area concordant with the modality of input, namely fusiform gyrus (BA 19, 37) for written words and superior temporal gyrus (BA 22, 42) for spoken words. Cross-modal tasks generated greater activation in posterior heteromodal regions including the supramarginal and angular gyri (BA 40, 39). Cross-modal tasks generated additional activation in unimodal areas representing the target of conversion, superior temporal gyrus for visual rhyming and fusiform gyrus for auditory spelling. Our findings suggest that the fusiform gyrus processes orthographic word forms, the superior temporal gyrus processes phonologic word forms, and posterior heteromodal regions are involved in the conversion between orthography and phonology.
Article
Chinese bilinguals performed a delayed naming task, reading both Chinese characters and English words, while EEGs were recorded by a 128-channel system. Principle component analysis (PCA) of Event Related Potentials (ERP) from the onset of the stimulus suggested a temporal unfolding of graphic, phonological, and semantic processing that depended on both language and word frequency. At 150 msec, Chinese produced an earlier and higher amplitude shift (N150) than English. At 250 msec, frequency effects were significant for both Chinese and English, but at 450 msec, only the English frequency effect was reliable. Source localization analysis by Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA) showed bilateral occipital (left BA 17, right BA 18) visual processing of Chinese characters with left occipital only (left BA 17) for English high-frequency words. Low-frequency English words showed activation bilaterally, but with a more diffused and extended temporal pattern. Right prefrontal area (BA 10) was found to be strongly activated in the mid latency (300-400 msec) period of Chinese character naming, whereas English word naming showed more medial frontal (BA 8, and 10) activation. A post 450-msec visual verification was found to be general for both writing systems.
Article
Reading in a second language (L2) is a complex task that entails an interaction between L2 and the native language (L1). To study the underlying mechanisms, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to visualize Chinese-English bilinguals' brain activity in phonological processing of logographic Chinese and alphabetic English, two written languages with a sharp contrast in phonology and orthography. In Experiment 1, we found that phonological processing of Chinese characters recruits a neural system involving left middle frontal and posterior parietal gyri, cortical regions that are known to contribute to spatial information representation, spatial working memory, and coordination of cognitive resources as a central executive system. We assume that the peak activation of this system is relevant to the unique feature of Chinese that a logographic character has a square configuration that maps onto a monosyllabic unit of speech. Equally important, when our bilingual subjects performed a phonological task on English words, this neural system was most active, whereas brain areas mediating English monolinguals' fine-grained phonemic analysis, as demonstrated by Experiment 2, were only weakly activated. This suggests that our bilingual subjects were applying their L1 system to L2 reading and that the lack of letter-to-sound conversion rules in Chinese led Chinese readers to being less capable of processing English by recourse to an analytic reading system on which English monolinguals rely. Our brain imaging findings lend strongest support to the idea that language experience tunes the cortex.
Article
People can discriminate real words from nonwords even when the latter are orthographically and phonologically word-like, presumably because words activate specific lexical and/or semantic information. We investigated the neural correlates of this identification process using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants performed a visual lexical decision task under conditions that encouraged specific word identification: Nonwords were matched to words on orthographic and phonologic characteristics, and accuracy was emphasized over speed. To identify neural responses associated with activation of nonsemantic lexical information, processing of words and nonwords with many lexical neighbors was contrasted with processing of items with no neighbors. The fMRI data showed robust differences in activation by words and word-like nonwords, with stronger word activation occurring in a distributed, left hemisphere network previously associated with semantic processing, and stronger nonword activation occurring in a posterior inferior frontal area previously associated with grapheme-to-phoneme mapping. Contrary to lexicon-based models of word recognition, there were no brain areas in which activation increased with neighborhood size. For words, activation in the left prefrontal, angular gyrus, and ventrolateral temporal areas was stronger for items without neighbors, probably because accurate responses to these items were more dependent on activation of semantic information. The results show neural correlates of access to specific word information. The absence of facilitatory lexical neighborhood effects on activation in these brain regions argues for an interpretation in terms of semantic access. Because subjects performed the same task throughout, the results are unlikely to be due to task-specific attentional, strategic, or expectancy effects.
Article
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to determine whether performance on lexical tasks was correlated with cerebral activation patterns. We found that such relationships did exist and that their anatomical distribution reflected the neurocognitive processing routes required by the task. Better performance on intramodal tasks (determining if visual words were spelled the same or if auditory words rhymed) was correlated with more activation in unimodal regions corresponding to the modality of sensory input, namely the fusiform gyrus (BA 37) for written words and the superior temporal gyrus (BA 22) for spoken words. Better performance in tasks requiring cross-modal conversions (determining if auditory words were spelled the same or if visual words rhymed), on the other hand, was correlated with more activation in posterior heteromodal regions, including the supramarginal gyrus (BA 40) and the angular gyrus (BA 39). Better performance in these cross-modal tasks was also correlated with greater activation in unimodal regions corresponding to the target modality of the conversion process (i.e., fusiform gyrus for auditory spelling and superior temporal gyrus for visual rhyming). In contrast, performance on the auditory spelling task was inversely correlated with activation in the superior temporal gyrus possibly reflecting a greater emphasis on the properties of the perceptual input rather than on the relevant transmodal conversions.
Article
In the present fMRI study, we addressed the question as to whether motor-perceptual interactions might be involved in reading. Recognizing the letters encountered when reading is generally assumed to be a purely visual process, yet because we know how to write, we also possess a sensorimotor representation of the letters. Does simply viewing a letter suffice to activate the corresponding motor representation? To answer this question, we asked right-handed subjects first to look at and then to copy single letters or pseudoletters. We established that the visual presentation of letters activated a part of the left premotor cortex (BA6) that was also activated when the letters were being written by the subjects. This premotor zone resembles Exner's area, which is thought to contain the motor programs necessary for producing letters. Visually presented pseudoletters, which had never been written before by the subjects, did not activate this region. These results indicate that the writing motor processes are implicitly evoked when passively observing letters. The cerebral representation of letters is therefore presumably not strictly visual, but based on a multicomponent neural network built up while learning concomitantly to read and write. One of the components might be a sensorimotor one associated with handwriting. This finding shows the existence of close functional relations between the reading and writing processes, and suggests that our reading abilities might be somehow dependent on the way we write.
Article
We summarize some of the most important findings from research evaluating the hypothesized causes of specific reading disability ('dyslexia') over the past four decades. After outlining components of reading ability, we discuss manifest causes of reading difficulties, in terms of deficiencies in component reading skills that might lead to such difficulties. The evidence suggests that inadequate facility in word identification due, in most cases, to more basic deficits in alphabetic coding is the basic cause of difficulties in learning to read. We next discuss hypothesized deficiencies in reading-related cognitive abilities as underlying causes of deficiencies in component reading skills. The evidence in these areas suggests that, in most cases, phonological skills deficiencies associated with phonological coding deficits are the probable causes of the disorder rather than visual, semantic, or syntactic deficits, although reading difficulties in some children may be associated with general language deficits. Hypothesized deficits in general learning abilities (e.g., attention, association learning, cross-modal transfer etc.) and low-level sensory deficits have weak validity as causal factors in specific reading disability. These inferences are, by and large, supported by research evaluating the biological foundations of dyslexia. Finally, evidence is presented in support of the idea that many poor readers are impaired because of inadequate instruction or other experiential factors. This does not mean that biological factors are not relevant, because the brain and environment interact to produce the neural networks that support reading acquisition. We conclude with a discussion of the clinical implications of the research findings, focusing on the need for enhanced instruction.
Article
The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the orthographic and phonological processing of Chinese characters. Four tasks were devised, including one homophone judgment and three physical judgments of characters, pseudo-characters, and Korean-like nonsense figures. While the left occipitotemporal region, left dorsal processing stream, and right middle frontal gyrus constitute a network for orthographic processing, the left premotor gyrus, left middle/inferior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor area (SMA), and the left temporoparietal region work in concert for phonological processing. The ventral part of the left inferior frontal cortex responds specifically to the character stimuli, suggesting a general lexical processing role for this region for linguistic material. The stronger activation of the dorsal visual stream by Chinese homophone judgment pinpoints a tight coupling between phonological representation of Chinese characters and corresponding orthographic percepts. The concomitant engagement of sets of regions for different levels of Chinese orthographic and phonological processing is consistent with the notion of distributed parallel processing.
Article
Brain imaging studies have explored the neural mechanisms of recovery in adults following acquired disorders and, more recently, childhood developmental disorders. However, the neural systems underlying adult rehabilitation of neurobiologically based learning disabilities remain unexplored, despite their high incidence. Here we characterize the differences in brain activity during a phonological manipulation task before and after a behavioral intervention in adults with developmental dyslexia. Phonologically targeted training resulted in performance improvements in tutored compared to nontutored dyslexics, and these gains were associated with signal increases in bilateral parietal and right perisylvian cortices. Our findings demonstrate that behavioral changes in tutored dyslexic adults are associated with (1) increased activity in those left-hemisphere regions engaged by normal readers and (2) compensatory activity in the right perisylvian cortex. Hence, behavioral plasticity in adult developmental dyslexia involves two distinct neural mechanisms, each of which has previously been observed either for remediation of developmental or acquired reading disorders.
Article
Recognizing printed words requires the mapping of graphic forms, which vary with writing systems, to linguistic forms, which vary with languages. Using a newly developed meta-analytic approach, aggregated Gaussian-estimated sources (AGES; Chein et al. [2002]: Psychol Behav 77:635-639), we examined the neuroimaging results for word reading within and across writing systems and languages. To find commonalities, we compiled 25 studies in English and other Western European languages that use an alphabetic writing system, 9 studies of native Chinese reading, 5 studies of Japanese Kana (syllabic) reading, and 4 studies of Kanji (morpho-syllabic) reading. Using the AGES approach, we created meta-images within each writing system, isolated reliable foci of activation, and compared findings across writing systems and languages. The results suggest that these writing systems utilize a common network of regions in word processing. Writing systems engage largely the same systems in terms of gross cortical regions, but localization within those regions suggests differences across writing systems. In particular, the region known as the visual word form area (VWFA) shows strikingly consistent localization across tasks and across writing systems. This region in the left mid-fusiform gyrus is critical to word recognition across writing systems and languages.
Article
We used the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) method to quantitatively synthesize data from 19 published brain mapping studies of phonological processing in reading, six with Chinese and 13 with alphabetic languages. It demonstrated high concordance of cortical activity across multiple studies in each written language system as well as significant differences of activation likelihood between languages. Four neural systems for the phonological processing of Chinese characters included: (1) a left dorsal lateral frontal system at Brodmann area (BA) 9; (2) the dorsal aspect of left inferior parietal system; (3) a bilateral ventral-occipitotemporal system including portions of fusiform gyrus and middle occipital gyrus; and (4) a left ventral prefrontal system covering the superior aspect of inferior frontal gyrus. For phonological processing of written alphabetic words, cortical areas identified here are consistent with the three neural systems proposed previously in the literature: (1) a ventral prefrontal system involving superior portions of left inferior frontal gyrus; (2) a left dorsal temporoparietal system including mid-superior temporal gyri and the ventral aspect of inferior parietal cortex (supramarginal region); and (3) a left ventral occipitotemporal system. Contributions of each of these systems to phonological processing in reading were discussed, and a covariant learning hypothesis is offered to account for the findings that left middle frontal gyrus is responsible for addressed phonology in Chinese whereas left temporoparietal regions mediate assembled phonology in alphabetic languages. Language form, cognitive process, and learning strategy drive the development of functional neuroanatomy.
Article
In a previous fMRI study on right-handers (Rhrs), we reported that part of the left ventral premotor cortex (BA6) was activated when alphabetical characters were passively observed and that the same region was also involved in handwriting [Longcamp, M., Anton, J. L., Roth, M., & Velay, J. L. (2003). Visual presentation of single letters activates a premotor area involved in writing. NeuroImage, 19, 1492-1500]. We therefore suggested that letter-viewing may induce automatic involvement of handwriting movements. In the present study, in order to confirm this hypothesis, we carried out a similar fMRI experiment on a group of left-handed subjects (Lhrs). We reasoned that if the above assumption was correct, visual perception of letters by Lhrs might automatically activate cortical motor areas coding for left-handed writing movements, i.e., areas located in the right hemisphere. The visual stimuli used here were either single letters, single pseudoletters, or a control stimulus. The subjects were asked to watch these stimuli attentively, and no response was required. The results showed that a ventral premotor cortical area (BA6) in the right hemisphere was specifically activated when Lhrs looked at letters and not at pseudoletters. This right area was symmetrically located with respect to the left one activated under the same circumstances in Rhrs. This finding supports the hypothesis that visual perception of written language evokes covert motor processes. In addition, a bilateral area, also located in the premotor cortex (BA6), but more ventrally and medially, was found to be activated in response to both letters and pseudoletters. This premotor region, which was not activated correspondingly in Rhrs, might be involved in the processing of graphic stimuli, whatever their degree of familiarity.