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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Jul;25(7):1715-23. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht350. Epub 2014 Jan 20.

Early Activity in Broca's Area During Reading Reflects Fast Access to Articulatory Codes From Print.

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Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, CNRS & Aix-Marseille University, Marseille 13331, France Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK.
Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, CNRS & Aix-Marseille University, Marseille 13331, France.
Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht 6200 MD, The Netherlands.
York Neuroimaging Centre, The Biocentre, York Y010 5NY, UK.
School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
York Neuroimaging Centre, The Biocentre, York Y010 5NY, UK Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK.


Prior evidence for early activity in Broca's area during reading may reflect fast access to articulatory codes in left inferior frontal gyrus pars opercularis (LIFGpo). We put this hypothesis to test using a benchmark for articulatory involvement in reading known as the masked onset priming effect (MOPE). In masked onset priming, briefly presented pronounceable strings of letters that share an initial phoneme with subsequently presented target words (e.g., gilp-GAME) facilitate word naming responses compared with unrelated primes (dilp-GAME). Crucially, these priming effects only occur when the task requires articulation (naming), and not when it requires lexical decisions. A standard explanation of masked onset priming is that it reflects fast computation of articulatory output codes from letter representations. We therefore predicted 1) that activity in left IFG pars opercularis would be modulated by masked onset priming, 2) that priming-related modulation in LIFGpo would immediately follow activity in occipital cortex, and 3) that this modulation would be greater for naming than for lexical decision. These predictions were confirmed in a magnetoencephalography (MEG) priming study. MOPEs emerged in left IFG at ∼100 ms posttarget onset, and the priming effects were more sustained when the task involved articulation.


MEG; MOPE; beamforming; broca's area; inferior frontal gyrus pars opercularis; masked onset priming

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