News Release

Unraveling brain circuitry tied to reading

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A study explores brain circuitry tied to reading. The ventral occipitotemporal cortex (vOTC) is a brain region crucial for recognizing visual patterns. Studying the structure, function, and connections of the vOTC is critical for understanding neural mechanisms that underlie reading. Garikoitz Lerma-Usabiaga and colleagues combined MRI and behavioral data collected from 66 Spanish-speaking individuals. The authors identified two distinct vOTC areas that play a role in visual word recognition. The posterior occipitotemporal sulcus (pOTS) is involved in extracting visual features, responding more strongly as the participants viewed images of real words compared with checkerboards or scrambled words. The middle OTS (mOTS) is involved in processing lexical information, producing higher levels of activity in response to real words compared with pseudowords or consonant strings. Whereas the pOTS is structurally connected to the intraparietal sulcus, the mOTS is structurally connected to and integrates information with other language areas, namely the angular gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus. Increased activation in both the pOTS and mOTS was associated with shorter reaction times in a reading task that required subjects to discern between real words, pseudowords, and consonant strings. According to the authors, the findings reveal separate pathways involved in distinct processes that support reading.

Article #18-03003: "Converging evidence for functional and structural segregation within the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex in reading," by Garikoitz Lerma-Usabiaga, Manuel Carreiras, and Pedro M. Paz-Alonso

MEDIA CONTACT: Garikoitz Lerma-Usabiaga, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; e-mail:


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