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Visual feature-tolerance in the reading network.


ABSTRACT: A century of neurology and neuroscience shows that seeing words depends on ventral occipital-temporal (VOT) circuitry. Typically, reading is learned using high-contrast line-contour words. We explored whether a specific VOT region, the visual word form area (VWFA), learns to see only these words or recognizes words independent of the specific shape-defining visual features. Word forms were created using atypical features (motion-dots, luminance-dots) whose statistical properties control word-visibility. We measured fMRI responses as word form visibility varied, and we used TMS to interfere with neural processing in specific cortical circuits, while subjects performed a lexical decision task. For all features, VWFA responses increased with word-visibility and correlated with performance. TMS applied to motion-specialized area hMT+ disrupted reading performance for motion-dots, but not line-contours or luminance-dots. A quantitative model describes feature-convergence in the VWFA and relates VWFA responses to behavioral performance. These findings suggest how visual feature-tolerance in the reading network arises through signal convergence from feature-specialized cortical areas.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3180962 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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