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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2002 Mar;131(1):65-72.

Functional MRI evidence for an abstract, not perceptual, word-form area.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1109, USA.


Previous studies have found an area in left ventral visual cortex that responds more to words and pseudowords than to consonant strings. Does this area respond to the perceptual form of wordlike stimuli, or is it responding to some more abstract, linguistic property, such as orthographic regularity (i.e., conformity with the spelling rules of the language)? During a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, participants read alternating-case words and pseudowords, which are orthographically regular but are perceptually unfamiliar. These stimuli activated the same area that was activated by pure-case words and pseudowords. These results suggest that the response of the so-called word-form area is not based on perceptual familiarity but rather on some more abstract feature such as orthographic regularity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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