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J Neurosci. 2000 Mar 1;20(5):1975-81.

Conscious and unconscious processing of nonverbal predictability in Wernicke's area.

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Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The association of nonverbal predictability and brain activation was examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging in humans. Participants regarded four squares displayed horizontally across a screen and counted the incidence of a particular color. A repeating spatial sequence with varying levels of predictability was embedded within a random color presentation. Both Wernicke's area and its right homolog displayed a negative correlation with temporal predictability, and this effect was independent of individuals' conscious awareness of the sequence. When individuals were made aware of the underlying sequential predictability, a widespread network of cortical regions displayed activity that correlated with the predictability. Conscious processing of predictability resulted in a positive correlation to activity in right prefrontal cortex but a negative correlation in posterior parietal cortex. These results suggest that conscious processing of predictability invokes a large-scale cortical network, but independently of awareness, Wernicke's area processes predictive events in time and may not be exclusively associated with language.

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