Mapping visual symbols onto spoken language along the ventral visual stream

J S H Taylor, Matthew H. Davis, Kathleen Rastle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Reading involves transforming arbitrary visual symbols into sounds and meanings. This study interrogated the neural representations in ventral occipitotemporal cortex (vOT) that support this transformation process. Twenty-four adults learned to read 2 sets of 24 novel words that shared phonemes and semantic categories but were written in different artificial orthographies. Following 2 wk of training, participants read the trained words while neural activity was measured with functional MRI. Representational similarity analysis on item pairs from the same orthography revealed that right vOT and posterior regions of left vOT were sensitive to basic visual similarity. Left vOT encoded letter identity and representations became more invariant to position along a posterior-to-anterior hierarchy. Item pairs that shared sounds or meanings, but were written in different orthographies with no letters in common, evoked similar neural patterns in anterior left vOT. These results reveal a hierarchical, posterior-to-anterior gradient in vOT, in which representations of letters become increasingly invariant to position and are transformed to convey spoken language information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17723-17728
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume116
Issue number36
Early online date19 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2019

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Language
Semantics
Reading
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.
This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).

Keywords

  • Learning
  • Orthography
  • Reading
  • Representation
  • fMRI

Cite this

Taylor, J S H ; Davis, Matthew H. ; Rastle, Kathleen. / Mapping visual symbols onto spoken language along the ventral visual stream. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019 ; Vol. 116, No. 36. pp. 17723-17728.
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Mapping visual symbols onto spoken language along the ventral visual stream. / Taylor, J S H; Davis, Matthew H.; Rastle, Kathleen.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 116, No. 36, 03.09.2019, p. 17723-17728.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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