The decoding of visually presented line segments into letters, and letters into words, is critical to fluent reading abilities. Here we investigate the temporal dynamics of visual orthographic processes, focusing specifically on right hemisphere contributions and interactions between the hemispheres involved in the implicit processing of visually presented words, consonants, false fonts, and symbolic strings. High-density EEG was recorded while participants detected infrequent, simple, perceptual targets (dot strings) embedded amongst a of character strings. Beginning at 130 ms, orthographic and non-orthographic stimuli were distinguished by a sequence of ERP effects over occipital recording sites. These early latency occipital effects were dominated by enhanced right-sided negative-polarity activation for non-orthographic stimuli that peaked at around 180 ms. This right-sided effect was followed by bilateral positive occipital activity for false-fonts, but not symbol strings. Moreover the size of components of this later positive occipital wave was inversely correlated with the right-sided ROcc180 wave, suggesting that subjects who had larger early right-sided activation for non-orthographic stimuli had less need for more extended bilateral (e.g., interhemispheric) processing of those stimuli shortly later. Additional early (130–150 ms) negative-polarity activity over left occipital cortex and longer-latency centrally distributed responses (>300 ms) were present, likely reflecting implicit activation of the previously reported ‘visual-word-form’ area and N400-related responses, respectively. Collectively, these results provide a close look at some relatively unexplored portions of the temporal flow of information processing in the brain related to the implicit processing of potentially linguistic information and provide valuable information about the interactions between hemispheres supporting visual orthographic processing.
word reading; ERPs; visual cortex; visual orthography
Individuals learn to read by gradually recognizing repeated letter combinations. However, it is unclear how or when neural mechanisms associated with repetition of basic stimuli (i.e., strings of letters) shift to involvement of higher-order language networks. The present study investigated this question by repeatedly presenting unfamiliar letter strings in a one-back matching task during an hour-long period. Activation patterns indicated that only brain areas associated with visual processing were activated during the early period, but additional regions that are usually associated with semantic and phonological processing in inferior frontal gyrus were recruited after stimuli became more familiar. Changes in activation were also observed in bilateral superior temporal cortex, also suggestive of a shift toward a more language-based processing strategy. Connectivity analyses reveal two distinct networks that correspond to phonological and visual processing, which may reflect the indirect and direct routes of reading. The phonological route maintained a similar degree of connectivity throughout the experiment, whereas visual areas increased connectivity with language areas as stimuli became more familiar, suggesting early recruitment of the direct route. This study provides insight about plasticity of the brain as individuals become familiar with unfamiliar combinations of letters (i.e., words in a new language, new acronyms) and has implications for engaging these linguistic networks during development of language remediation therapies.
letter strings; fMRI; connectivity; reading; learning; plasticity
The ability to create new meanings from combinations of words is one important function of the language system. We investigated the neural correlates of combinatorial semantic processing using fMRI. During scanning, participants performed a rating task on auditory word or pseudoword strings that differed in the presence of combinatorial and word-level semantic information. Stimuli included normal sentences comprised of thematically related words that could be readily combined to produce a more complex meaning, semantically incongruent sentences in which content words were randomly replaced with other content words, pseudoword sentences, and versions of these three sentence types in which syntactic structure was removed by randomly re-ordering the words. Several regions showed greater BOLD signal for stimuli with words than for those with pseudowords, including the left angular gyrus, left superior temporal sulcus, and left inferior frontal gyrus, suggesting that these areas are involved in semantic access at the single word level. In the angular and inferior frontal gyri these differences emerged early in the course of the hemodynamic response. An effect of combinatorial semantic structure was observed in the left angular gyrus and left lateral temporal lobe, which showed greater activation for normal compared to semantically incongruent sentences. These effects appeared later in the time course of the hemodynamic response, beginning after the entire stimulus had been presented. The data indicate a complex spatiotemporal pattern of activity associated with computation of word and sentence-level semantic information, and suggest a particular role for the left angular gyrus in processing overall sentence meaning.
In the classic neurological model of language, the human inferior parietal lobule (IPL) plays an important role in visual word recognition. The region is both functionally and structurally heterogeneous, however, suggesting that subregions of IPL may differentially contribute to reading. The two main sub-divisions are the supramarginal (SMG) and angular gyri, which have been hypothesized to contribute preferentially to phonological and semantic aspects of word processing, respectively.
Here we used single-pulse TMS to investigate the functional specificity and timing of SMG involvement in reading. Participants performed two reading tasks that focused attention on either the phonological or semantic relation between two simultaneously presented words. A third task focused attention on the visual relation between pairs of consonant letter strings to control for basic input and output characteristics of the paradigm using non-linguistic stimuli. TMS to SMG was delivered on every trial at 120, 180, 240 or 300 msec post-stimulus onset.
Stimulation at 180 msec produced a reliable facilitation of reaction times for both the phonological and semantic tasks, but not for the control visual task.
These findings demonstrate that SMG contributes to reading regardless of the specific task demands, and suggests this may be due to automatically computing the sound of a word even when the task does not explicitly require it.
reading; phonology; semantics; chronometric TMS; inferior parietal lobe; neurological model of reading
In line with Crow's hypothesis, altered hemispheric lateralization of language would cause the main symptoms of schizophrenia. The present experiment aimed to demonstrate the loss of the hemispheric specialization for linguistic processing in schizophrenia patients at the level of early automatic evoked potentials (N150).
A sample of 10 outpatients with schizophrenia treated with low levels of neuroleptics and 10 matched healthy control subjects were administered 3 linguistic tasks based on stimulus pair comparisons (phonological, semantic and word–picture matching tasks). Laterality scores of early evoked potentials were analyzed during 2 time windows corresponding to the N150- and N400-like components.
The patients failed to develop the typical left hemispheric N150 component evoked by the first word (S1), which was consistently achieved by the healthy control group in posterior sites (p < 0.01). The effect was specific and stable for linguistic stimuli. As well, for the N150 elicited by the target stimulus (S2), the patients exhibited a lack of linguistic lateralization. In the control task (word–picture matching task), in which S2 was a picture, the 2 groups revealed very similar bilateral recognition potentials.
The results point to a failure of language lateralization in patients with schizophrenia, a deficit involving those linguistic networks automatically activated in the earliest phase of word recognition (N150). Consistent with the current view of schizophrenia, this finding may be related to lack of integration among specific processes and reduced interconnection of underlying linguistic networks.
schizophrenia; language; hemispheric asymmetry; evoked potentials; recognition potential; N150
Content and function words have different roles in language and differ greatly in their semantic content. Although previous research has suggested that these different roles may be mediated by different neural substrates, the neuroimaging literature on this topic is particularly scant. Moreover, fMRI studies that have investigated differences between content and function words have utilized tasks that focus the subjects’ attention on the differences between these word types. It is possible, then, that task-related differences in attention, working memory, and decision-making contribute to the differential patterns of activation observed. Here, subjects were engaged in a continuous working memory cover task while single, task-irrelevant content and function words were infrequently and irregularly presented. Nonword letter strings were displayed in black font at a fast rate (2/sec). Subjects were required to either remember or retrieve occasional nonwords that were presented in colored fonts. Incidental and irrelevant to the memory task, content and function words were interspersed among nonwords at intervals of 12 to 15 sec. Both word types strongly activated temporal-parietal cortex, middle and anterior temporal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, and orbital frontal cortex. Activations were more extensive in the left hemisphere. Content words elicited greater activation than function words in middle and anterior temporal cortex, a sub-region of orbital frontal cortex, and the parahippocampal region. Words also evoked extensive deactivation, most notably in brain regions previously associated with working memory and attention.
fMRI; language; semantic processing; content and function words
The importance of the left occipitotemporal cortex for visual word processing is highlighted by numerous functional neuroimaging studies, but the precise function of the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) in this brain region is still under debate. The present fMRI study varied orthographic familiarity independent from phonological-semantic familiarity by presenting orthographically familiar and orthographically unfamiliar forms (pseudohomophones) of the same words in a phonological lexical decision task. Consistent with orthographic word recognition in the VWFA, we found lower activation for familiar compared to unfamiliar forms, but no difference between pseudohomophones and pseudowords. This orthographic familiarity effect in the VWFA differed from the phonological familiarity effect in left frontal regions, where phonologically unfamiliar pseudowords led to higher activation than phonologically familiar pseudohomophones. We suggest that the VWFA not only computes letter string representations but also hosts word specific orthographic representations. These representations function as recognition units with the effect that letter strings, which readily match with stored representations lead to less activation than letter strings which do not.
Functional MRI; orthographic word recognition; visual word processing; occipitotemporal cortex; reading
As a means toward understanding the neural bases of schizophrenic thought disturbance, we examined brain activation patterns in response to semantically and superficially encoded words in patients with schizophrenia. Nine male schizophrenic and 9 male control subjects were tested in a visual levels of processing (LOP) task first outside the magnet and then during the fMRI scanning procedures (using a different set of words). During the experiments visual words were presented under two conditions. Under the deep, semantic encoding condition, subjects made semantic judgments as to whether the words were abstract or concrete. Under the shallow, nonsemantic encoding condition, subjects made perceptual judgments of the font size (uppercase/lowercase) of the presented words. After performance of the behavioral task, a recognition test was used to assess the depth of processing effect, defined as better performance for semantically encoded words than for perceptually encoded words. For the scanned version only, the words for both conditions were repeated in order to assess repetition-priming effects. Reaction times were assessed in both testing scenarios. Both groups showed the expected depth of processing effect for recognition, and control subjects showed the expected increased activation of the left inferior prefrontal cortex (LIPC) under semantic encoding relative to perceptual encoding conditions as well as repetition priming for semantic conditions only. In contrast, schizophrenics showed similar patterns of fMRI activation regardless of condition. Most striking in relation to controls, patients showed decreased LIFC activation concurrent with increased left superior temporal gyrus activation for semantic encoding versus shallow encoding. Furthermore, schizophrenia subjects did not show the repetition priming effect, either behaviorally or as a decrease in LIPC activity. In patients with schizophrenia, LIFC underactivation and left superior temporal gyrus overactivation for semantically encoded words may reflect a disease-related disruption of a distributed frontal temporal network that is engaged in the representation and processing of meaning of words, text, and discourse and which may underlie schizophrenic thought disturbance.
Abnormalities within language-related anatomical structures have been associated with clinical symptoms and with language and memory deficits in schizophrenia. Recent studies suggest disruptions in functional connectivity within the Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG) network in schizophrenia. However, due to technical challenges, anatomical connectivity abnormalities within this network and their involvement in clinical and cognitive deficits have not been studied.
Material and Methods
Diffusion and anatomical scans were obtained from 23 chronic schizophrenia patients and 23 matched controls. The IFG was automatically segmented, and its white matter connections extracted and measured with newly-developed stochastic tractography tools. Correlations between anatomical structures and measures of semantic processing were also performed.
White Matter connections between the IFG and posterior brain regions followed two distinct pathways: dorsal and ventral. Both demonstrated left lateralization, but ventral pathway abnormalities were only found in schizophrenia. IFG volumes also showed left lateralization and abnormalities in schizophrenia. Further, despite similar laterality and abnormality patterns, IFG volumes and white matter connectivity were not correlated with each other in either group. Interestingly, measures of semantic processing correlated with white matter connectivity in schizophrenia and with gray matter volumes in controls. Finally, hallucinations were best predicted by both gray matter and white matter measures together.
Our results suggest abnormalities within the ventral IFG network in schizophrenia, with white matter abnormalities better predicting semantic deficits. The lack of a statistical relationship between coexisting gray and white matter deficits might suggest their different origin and the necessity for a multimodal approach in future schizophrenia studies.
diffusion tensor imaging; schizophrenia; stochastic tractography; language network; inferior frontal gyrus; fractional anisotropy
This fMRI study contrasted case-deviant and letter-deviant forms with familiar forms of the same phonological words (e.g., TaXi and Taksi vs. Taxi) and found, that both types of deviance led to increased activation in a left occipitotemporal region corresponding to the Visual Word Form Area. Case-deviant items, in addition, led to increased activation in a right occipitotemporal region and in a left occipital and a left posterior occipitotemporal region, possibly reflecting the increased demands on letter form coding. For letter-deviant items, in addition to the increased left occipitotemporal activation, a main finding was increased activation primarily in extended left frontal regions, possibly reflecting sublexically mediated access to word phonology. These findings are consistent with general features of cognitive dual-route models of visual word processing. Furthermore, they add support to the main feature of Dehaene et al.’s (2005) neural model of early stages of visual word processing . However, the increased activation found for case-deviant items in the VWFA cannot be immediately reconciled with the assumption of completely abstract case-independent orthographic word codes in the VWFA.
Functional MRI; visual word recognition; occipitotemporal cortex; visual word form area; orthographic processing
Studies of spoken and signed language processing reliably show involvement of the posterior superior temporal cortex. This region is also reliably activated by observation of meaningless oral and manual actions. In this study we directly compared the extent to which activation in posterior superior temporal cortex is modulated by linguistic knowledge irrespective of differences in language form. We used a novel cross-linguistic approach in two groups of volunteers who differed in their language experience. Using fMRI, we compared deaf native signers of British Sign Language (BSL), who were also proficient speechreaders of English (i.e., two languages) with hearing people who could speechread English, but knew no BSL (i.e., one language). Both groups were presented with BSL signs and silently spoken English words, and were required to respond to a signed or spoken target. The interaction of group and condition revealed activation in the superior temporal cortex, bilaterally, focused in the posterior superior temporal gyri (pSTG, BA 42/22). In hearing people, these regions were activated more by speech than by sign, but in deaf respondents they showed similar levels of activation for both language forms – suggesting that posterior superior temporal regions are highly sensitive to language knowledge irrespective of the mode of delivery of the stimulus material.
Language processing; Semantics; Signed language; Speechreading; Deafness; Temporal cortex; Neuroimaging; fMRI
The meaning of a word usually depends on the context in which it occurs. This study investigated the neural mechanisms involved in computing word meanings that change as a function of syntactic context. Current semantic processing theories suggest that word meanings are retrieved from diverse cortical regions storing sensory-motor and other types of semantic information, and are further integrated with context in left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG). Our fMRI data indicate that brain activity in an area sensitive to motion and action semantics – the posterior middle temporal gyrus (PMTG) – is modulated by a word's syntactic context. Ambiguous words such as bowl were presented in minimal disambiguating contexts indicating object (the bowl) or action (to bowl) meanings, and were compared to low-ambiguity controls. Ambiguous words elicited more activity than low-ambiguity controls in LIFG and various meaning-related areas such as PMTG. Critically, ambiguous words also elicited more activity in to-contexts than the-contexts in PMTG and LIFG, suggesting that contextual integration strengthened the action meaning in both areas. The pattern of results suggests that the activation of lexical information in PMTG was sensitive to contextual disambiguating information and that processing context-dependent meanings may involve interactions between frontal and posterior areas.
T. J. Crow suggested that the genetic variance associated with the evolution in Homo sapiens of hemispheric dominance for language carries with it the hazard of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Individuals lacking the typical left hemisphere advantage for language, in particular for phonological components, would be at increased risk of the typical symptoms such as auditory hallucinations and delusions.
Twelve schizophrenic patients treated with low levels of neuroleptics and twelve matched healthy controls participated in an event-related potential experiment. Subjects matched word-pairs in three tasks: rhyming/phonological, semantic judgment and word recognition. Slow evoked potentials were recorded from 26 scalp electrodes, and a laterality index was computed for anterior and posterior regions during the inter stimulus interval. During phonological processing individuals with schizophrenia failed to achieve the left hemispheric dominance consistently observed in healthy controls. The effect involved anterior (fronto-temporal) brain regions and was specific for the Phonological task; group differences were small or absent when subjects processed the same stimulus material in a Semantic task or during Word Recognition, i.e. during tasks that typically activate more widespread areas in both hemispheres.
We show for the first time how the deficit of lateralization in the schizophrenic brain is specific for the phonological component of language. This loss of hemispheric dominance would explain typical symptoms, e.g. when an individual's own thoughts are perceived as an external intruding voice. The change can be interpreted as a consequence of “hemispheric indecision”, a failure to segregate phonological engrams in one hemisphere.
A long-standing debate in cognitive neuroscience pertains to the innate nature of language development and the underlying factors that determine this faculty. We explored the neural correlates associated with language processing in a unique individual who is early blind, congenitally deaf, and possesses a high level of language function. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we compared the neural networks associated with the tactile reading of words presented in Braille, Print on Palm (POP), and a haptic form of American Sign Language (haptic ASL or hASL). With all three modes of tactile communication, indentifying words was associated with robust activation within occipital cortical regions as well as posterior superior temporal and inferior frontal language areas (lateralized within the left hemisphere). In a normally sighted and hearing interpreter, identifying words through hASL was associated with left-lateralized activation of inferior frontal language areas however robust occipital cortex activation was not observed. Diffusion tensor imaging -based tractography revealed differences consistent with enhanced occipital-temporal connectivity in the deaf-blind subject. Our results demonstrate that in the case of early onset of both visual and auditory deprivation, tactile-based communication is associated with an extensive cortical network implicating occipital as well as posterior superior temporal and frontal associated language areas. The cortical areas activated in this deaf-blind subject are consistent with characteristic cortical regions previously implicated with language. Finally, the resilience of language function within the context of early and combined visual and auditory deprivation may be related to enhanced connectivity between relevant cortical areas.
deafness; blindness; tactile language; neuroplasticity; fMRI; diffusion tensor imaging
Verbal fluency tasks have been widely used to evaluate language and executive control processes in the human brain. FMRI studies of verbal fluency, however, have used either silent word generation (which provides no behavioral measure) or cued generation of single words in order to contend with speech-related motion artifacts. In this study, we use a recently developed paradigm design to investigate the neural correlates of verbal fluency during overt, free recall, word generation so that performance and brain activity could be evaluated under conditions that more closely mirror standard behavioral test demands. We investigated verbal fluency to both letter and category cues in order to evaluate differential involvement of specific frontal and temporal lobe sites as a function of retrieval cue type, as suggested by previous neuropsychological and neuroimaging investigations. In addition, we incorporated both a task switching manipulation and an automatic speech condition in order to modulate the demand placed on executive functions. We found greater activation in the left hemisphere during category and letter fluency tasks, and greater right hemisphere activation during automatic speech. We also found that letter and category fluency tasks were associated with differential involvement of specific regions of the frontal and temporal lobes. These findings provide converging evidence that letter and category fluency performance is dependent on partially distinct neural circuitry. They also provide strong evidence that verbal fluency can be successfully evaluated in the MR environment using overt, self-paced, responses.
The visual word form area (VWFA) is a region of left inferior occipitotemporal cortex that is critically involved in visual word recognition. Previous studies have investigated whether and how experience shapes the functional characteristics of VWFA by comparing neural response magnitude in response to words and nonwords. Conflicting results have been obtained, however, perhaps because response magnitude can be influenced by other factors such as attention. In this study, we measured neural activity in monozygotic twins, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This allowed us to quantify differences in unique environmental contributions to neural activation evoked by words, pseudowords, consonant strings, and false fonts in the VWFA and striate cortex. The results demonstrate significantly greater effects of unique environment in the word and pseudoword conditions compared to the consonant string and false font conditions both in VWFA and in left striate cortex. These findings provide direct evidence for environmental contributions to the neural architecture for reading, and suggest that learning phonology and/or orthographic patterns plays the biggest role in shaping that architecture.
There is increasing evidence from response time experiments that language statistics and perceptual simulations both play a role in conceptual processing. In an EEG experiment we compared neural activity in cortical regions commonly associated with linguistic processing and visual perceptual processing to determine to what extent symbolic and embodied accounts of cognition applied. Participants were asked to determine the semantic relationship of word pairs (e.g., sky – ground) or to determine their iconic relationship (i.e., if the presentation of the pair matched their expected physical relationship). A linguistic bias was found toward the semantic judgment task and a perceptual bias was found toward the iconicity judgment task. More importantly, conceptual processing involved activation in brain regions associated with both linguistic and perceptual processes. When comparing the relative activation of linguistic cortical regions with perceptual cortical regions, the effect sizes for linguistic cortical regions were larger than those for the perceptual cortical regions early in a trial with the reverse being true later in a trial. These results map upon findings from other experimental literature and provide further evidence that processing of concept words relies both on language statistics and on perceptual simulations, whereby linguistic processes precede perceptual simulation processes.
embodied cognition; symbolic cognition; symbol interdependency; perceptual simulation; language processing; EEG
The visual world is replete with noisy, continuous, perceptually variant linguistic information, which fluent readers rapidly translate from percept to meaning. What are the properties the language comprehension system uses as cues to initiate lexical/semantic access in response to some, but not all, orthographic strings? In the behavioral, electromagnetic, and neuropsychological literatures, orthographic regularity and familiarity have been identified as critical factors. Here, we present a study in the Reicher–Wheeler tradition that manipulates these two properties independently through the use of four stimulus categories: familiar and orthographically regular words, unfamiliar but regular pseudowords, unfamiliar illegal strings, and familiar but orthographically illegal acronyms. We find that, like letters in words and pseudowords, letters in acronyms enjoy an identification benefit relative to similarly illegal, but unfamiliar strings. This supports theories of visual word recognition in which familiarity, rather than orthographic regularity, plays a critical role in gating processing.
Trying to understand human language by constructing robots that have language necessarily implies an embodied view of language, where the meaning of linguistic expressions is derived from the physical interactions of the organism with the environment. The paper describes a neural model of language according to which the robot's behaviour is controlled by a neural network composed of two sub-networks, one dedicated to the non-linguistic interactions of the robot with the environment and the other one to processing linguistic input and producing linguistic output. We present the results of a number of simulations using the model and we suggest how the model can be used to account for various language-related phenomena such as disambiguation, the metaphorical use of words, the pervasive idiomaticity of multi-word expressions, and mental life as talking to oneself. The model implies a view of the meaning of words and multi-word expressions as a temporal process that takes place in the entire brain and has no clearly defined boundaries. The model can also be extended to emotional words if we assume that an embodied view of language includes not only the interactions of the robot's brain with the external environment but also the interactions of the brain with what is inside the body.
emotional words; language; robots
Structural and functional abnormalities have been found in language-related brain regions in patients with schizophrenia. We previously reported findings pointing to differences in word processing between people with schizophrenia and individuals who are at high-risk for schizophrenia using a voxel-based (whole brain) fMRI approach. We now extend this finding to specifically examine functional activity in three language related cortical regions using a larger cohort of individuals.
A visual lexical discrimination task was performed by 36 controls, 21 subjects at high genetic-risk for schizophrenia, and 20 patients with schizophrenia during blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) fMRI scanning. Activation in bilateral inferior frontal gyri (Brodmann's area 44-45), bilateral inferior parietal lobe (Brodmann's area 39-40), and bilateral superior temporal gyri (Brodmann's area 22) was investigated. For all subjects, two-tailed Pearson correlations were calculated between the computed laterality index and a series of cognitive test scores determining language functioning.
Regional activation in Brodmann's area 44-45 was left lateralized in normal controls, while high-risk subjects and patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder showed more bilateral activation. No significant differences among the three diagnostic groups in the other two regions of interest (Brodmann's area 22 or areas 39-40) were found. Furthermore, the apparent reasons for loss of leftward language lateralization differed between groups. In high-risk subjects, the loss of lateralization was based on reduced left hemisphere activation, while in the patient group, it was due to increased right side activation. Language ability related cognitive scores were positively correlations with the laterality indices obtained from Brodmann's areas 44-45 in the high-risk group, and with the laterality indices from Brodmann's areas 22 and 44-45 in the patient group.
This study reinforces previous language related imaging studies in high-risk subjects and patients with schizophrenia suggesting that reduced functional lateralization in language related frontal cortex may be a vulnerability marker for schizophrenia. Future studies will determine whether it is predictive of who develops illness.
fMRI; schizophrenia; High risk, genetic; Language lateralization; ROI based study
Why females generally perform better on language tasks than males is unknown. Sex differences were here identified in children (ages 9 – 15) across two linguistic tasks for words presented in two modalities. Bilateral activation in the inferior frontal and superior temporal gyri and activation in the left fusiform gyrus of girls was greater than in boys. Activation in the left inferior frontal and fusiform regions of girls was also correlated with linguistic accuracy irregardless of stimulus modality, whereas correlation with performance accuracy in boys depended on the modality of word presentation (either in visual or auditory association cortex). This pattern suggests that girls rely on a supramodal language network, whereas boys process visual and auditory words differently. Activation in the left fusiform region was additionally correlated with performance on standardized language tests in which girls performed better, additional evidence of its role in early sex differences for language.
fMRI; gender; development; reading; skill
We will review converging evidence that language related symptoms of the schizophrenic syndrome such as auditory verbal hallucinations arise at least in part from processing abnormalities in posterior language regions. These language regions are either adjacent to or overlapping with regions in the (posterior) temporal cortex and temporo-parietal occipital junction that are part of a system for processing social cognition, emotion, and self representation or agency. The inferior parietal and posterior superior temporal regions contain multi-modal representational systems that may also provide rapid feedback and feed-forward activation to unimodal regions such as auditory cortex. We propose that the over-activation of these regions could not only result in erroneous activation of semantic and speech (auditory word) representations, resulting in thought disorder and voice hallucinations, but could also result in many of the other symptoms of schizophrenia. These regions are also part of the so-called “default network”, a network of regions that are normally active; and their activity is also correlated with activity within the hippocampal system.
Schizophrenia; Temporal lobe; Superior temporal sulcus; Inferior parietal; Temporo-parietal junction; Hippocampus; Language; Default system
Over 90% of people activate the left hemisphere more than the right hemisphere for language processing. Here, we show that the degree to which language is left lateralized is inversely related to the degree to which left frontal regions drive activity in homotopic right frontal regions. Lateralization was assessed in 60 subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation for semantic decisions on verbal (written words) and nonverbal (pictures of objects) stimuli. Regional interactions between left and right ventral and dorsal frontal regions were assessed using dynamic causal modeling (DCM), random-effects Bayesian model selection at the family level, and Bayesian model averaging at the connection level. We found that 1) semantic decisions on words and pictures modulated interhemispheric coupling between the left and right dorsal frontal regions, 2) activation was more left lateralized for words than pictures, and 3) for words only, left lateralization was greater when the coupling from the left to right dorsal frontal cortex was reduced. These results have theoretical implications for understanding how left and right hemispheres communicate with one another during the processing of lateralized functions.
dynamic causal modelling; effective connectivity; functional MRI; inter-hemispheric interactions; language laterality; semantic decision
Functional studies in schizophrenia demonstrate prominent abnormalities within the left inferior frontal gyrus(IFG) and also suggest the functional connectivity abnormalities in language network including left IFG and superior temporal gyrus during semantic processing. White matter connections between regions involved in the semantic network have also been indicated in schizophrenia. However, an association between functional and anatomical connectivity disruptions within the semantic network in schizophrenia has not been established. Functional (using Levels of Processing paradigm) as well as Diffusion Tensor Imaging data from 10 controls and 10 chronic schizophrenics were acquired and analyzed. First, semantic encoding specific activation was estimated, showing decreased activation within the left IFG in schizophrenia. Second, functional time series were extracted from this area, and left IFG specific functional connectivity maps were produced for each subject. In an independent analysis, Tract-Based Spatial Statistics(TBSS) was used to compare Fractional Anisotropy(FA) values between groups, and to correlate these values with functional connectivity maps. Schizophrenia patients showed weaker functional connectivity within the language network that includes left IFG and left superior temporal sulcus/middle temporal gyrus. FA was reduced in several white matter regions including left inferior frontal and left internal capsule. Finally, left inferior frontal white matter FA was positively correlated with connectivity measures of the semantic network in schizophrenics, but not in controls. Our results indicate an association between anatomical and functional connectivity abnormalities within the semantic network in schizophrenia, suggesting further that the functional abnormalities observed in this disorder might be directly related to white matter disruptions.
Diffusion MRI; Semantics; Functional MRI; Fractional anisotropy; White matter
We used fMRI to examine functional brain abnormalities of German-speaking dyslexics who suffer from slow effortful reading but not from a reading accuracy problem. Similar to acquired cases of letter-by-letter reading, the developmental cases exhibited an abnormal strong effect of length (i.e., number of letters) on response time for words and pseudowords.
Corresponding to lesions of left occipito-temporal (OT) regions in acquired cases, we found a dysfunction of this region in our developmental cases who failed to exhibit responsiveness of left OT regions to the length of words and pseudowords. This abnormality in the left OT cortex was accompanied by absent responsiveness to increased sublexical reading demands in phonological inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) regions. Interestingly, there was no abnormality in the left superior temporal cortex which—corresponding to the onological deficit explanation—is considered to be the prime locus of the reading difficulties of developmental dyslexia cases.
The present functional imaging results suggest that developmental dyslexia similar to acquired letter-by-letter reading is due to a primary dysfunction of left OT regions.