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J Physiol Paris. 1994;88(1):51-80.

Spatio-temporal stages in face and word processing. 2. Depth-recorded potentials in the human frontal and Rolandic cortices.

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INSERM CJF 90-12, Clinique Neurologique, CHRU Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.

Erratum in

  • J Physiol Paris 1994;88(2):following 151.


Evoked potentials (EPs) were recorded directly from 650 frontal and peri-Rolandic sites in 26 subjects during face and/or word recognition, as well as during control tasks (simple auditory and visual discrimination). Electrodes were implanted in order to localize epileptogenic foci resistant to medication, and thus direct their surgical removal. While awaiting spontaneous seizure onset, the patients gave informed consent to perform cognitive tasks during intracerebral EEG recording. The earliest potentials appeared to be related to sensory stimulation, were prominent in lateral prefrontal cortex, and occurred at peak latencies of about 150 and 190 ms. A small triphasic complex beginning slightly later (peak latencies about 200-285-350 ms) appeared to correspond to the scalp N2-P3a-slow wave, associated with non-specific orienting. Multiple components peaking from 280 to 900 ms, and apparently specific to words were occasionally recorded in the left inferior frontal g, pars triangularis (Broca's area). Components peaking at about 430 and 600 ms were recorded in all parts of the prefrontal cortex, but were largest (up to 180 microV) and frequently polarity-inverted in the ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex. These components appeared to represent the N4-P3b, which have been associated with contextual integration and cognitive closure. Finally, a late negativity (650-900 ms) was recorded in precentral and premotor cortices, probably corresponding to a peri-movement readiness potential. In summary, EP components related to early sensory processing were most prominent in lateral prefrontal, to orienting in medial limbic, to word-specific processing in Broca's area, to cognitive integration in ventro-lateral prefrontal, and to response organization in premotor cortices.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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