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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 4;104(49):19643-8. Epub 2007 Nov 27.

Task-specific change of unconscious neural priming in the cerebral language network.

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Laboratoire des Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Ecole Normale Supérieure, 75005 Paris, France.


We explored the impact of task context on subliminal neural priming using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The repetition of words during semantic categorization produced activation reduction in the left middle temporal gyrus previously associated with semantic-level representation and dorsal premotor cortex. By contrast, reading aloud produced repetition enhancement in the left inferior parietal lobe associated with print-to-sound conversion and ventral premotor cortex. Analyses of effective connectivity revealed that the task set for reading generated reciprocal excitatory connections between the left inferior parietal and superior temporal regions, reflecting the audiovisual integration required for vocalization, whereas categorization did not produce such backward projection to posterior regions. Thus, masked repetition priming involves two distinct components in the task-specific neural streams, one in the parietotemporal cortex for task-specific word processing and the other in the premotor cortex for behavioral response preparation. The top-down influence of task sets further changes the directions of the unconscious priming in the entire cerebral circuitry for reading.

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