Turning visual shapes into sounds: Early stages of reading acquisition revealed in the ventral occipitotemporal cortex.


  • Perrone-Bertolotti Marcela
  • Vidal J. R.
  • de Palma L.
  • Hamamé C. M.
  • Ossandon T.
  • Kahane P.
  • Minotti L.
  • Bertrand O.
  • Lachaux J.-P.

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: The exact role of the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex (VOTC) during the initial stages of reading acquisition is a hotly debated issue, especially regarding the comparative effect of learning on early stimulus-dependent vs. later task-dependent processes. We show that this controversy can be solved with high-temporal resolution intracerebral EEG recordings of the VOTC. We measured High-Frequency Activity (50-150Hz) as a proxy of population-level spiking activity while participants learned Japanese Katakana symbols, and found that learning primarily affects top-down/task-dependent neural processing, after a few minutes only. In contrast, adaptation of early bottom-up/stimulus-dependent processing takes several days to adapt and provides the basis for fluent reading. Such evidence that two consecutive stages of neural processing, stimulus- and task-dependent are differentially affected by learning, can reconcile seemingly opposite hypotheses on the role of the VOTC during reading acquisition.

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