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Investigating unique environmental contributions to the neural representation of written words: a monozygotic twin study.

Park J, Park DC, Polk TA - PLoS ONE (2012)

Bottom Line: Conflicting results have been obtained, however, perhaps because response magnitude can be influenced by other factors such as attention.The results demonstrate significantly greater effects of unique environment in the word and pseudoword conditions compared to the consonant string and false font conditions both in VWFA and in left striate cortex.These findings provide direct evidence for environmental contributions to the neural architecture for reading, and suggest that learning phonology and/or orthographic patterns plays the biggest role in shaping that architecture.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America. Joonkoo.park@duke.edu

ABSTRACT
The visual word form area (VWFA) is a region of left inferior occipitotemporal cortex that is critically involved in visual word recognition. Previous studies have investigated whether and how experience shapes the functional characteristics of VWFA by comparing neural response magnitude in response to words and nonwords. Conflicting results have been obtained, however, perhaps because response magnitude can be influenced by other factors such as attention. In this study, we measured neural activity in monozygotic twins, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This allowed us to quantify differences in unique environmental contributions to neural activation evoked by words, pseudowords, consonant strings, and false fonts in the VWFA and striate cortex. The results demonstrate significantly greater effects of unique environment in the word and pseudoword conditions compared to the consonant string and false font conditions both in VWFA and in left striate cortex. These findings provide direct evidence for environmental contributions to the neural architecture for reading, and suggest that learning phonology and/or orthographic patterns plays the biggest role in shaping that architecture.

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Examples of stimuli used in this study.Monozygotic twin participants performed a visual matching task on pairs of real words (WD), pseudowords (PW), consonant strings (CS), numbers (NB), and false fonts (FF) and judged whether the two items were the same or different.
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pone-0031512-g001: Examples of stimuli used in this study.Monozygotic twin participants performed a visual matching task on pairs of real words (WD), pseudowords (PW), consonant strings (CS), numbers (NB), and false fonts (FF) and judged whether the two items were the same or different.

Mentions: Words (WD) were randomly chosen from the MCWord database (Medler & Binder, 2005, MCWord: An On-Line Orthographic Database of the English Language, http://www.neuro.mcw.edu/mcword) with word frequency ranging from 205.4 to 497.3 per million. Pseudowords, or pronounceable nonwords, were created from constrained trigram-based strings from the MCWord database. Consonant strings were random combinations of consonants. False fonts (FF) were adapted from Vinckier et al. [12]. These false fonts were designed to be visually similar to upper case letters. Additionally, random combinations of Arabic numbers (NB) were included, which served as a contrast when functionally identifying the VWFA. All strings were composed of four characters (mono-spaced typeface with 2° visual angle in height), and only capital letters were used (see Fig. 1).


Investigating unique environmental contributions to the neural representation of written words: a monozygotic twin study.

Park J, Park DC, Polk TA - PLoS ONE (2012)

Examples of stimuli used in this study.Monozygotic twin participants performed a visual matching task on pairs of real words (WD), pseudowords (PW), consonant strings (CS), numbers (NB), and false fonts (FF) and judged whether the two items were the same or different.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3275550&req=5

pone-0031512-g001: Examples of stimuli used in this study.Monozygotic twin participants performed a visual matching task on pairs of real words (WD), pseudowords (PW), consonant strings (CS), numbers (NB), and false fonts (FF) and judged whether the two items were the same or different.
Mentions: Words (WD) were randomly chosen from the MCWord database (Medler & Binder, 2005, MCWord: An On-Line Orthographic Database of the English Language, http://www.neuro.mcw.edu/mcword) with word frequency ranging from 205.4 to 497.3 per million. Pseudowords, or pronounceable nonwords, were created from constrained trigram-based strings from the MCWord database. Consonant strings were random combinations of consonants. False fonts (FF) were adapted from Vinckier et al. [12]. These false fonts were designed to be visually similar to upper case letters. Additionally, random combinations of Arabic numbers (NB) were included, which served as a contrast when functionally identifying the VWFA. All strings were composed of four characters (mono-spaced typeface with 2° visual angle in height), and only capital letters were used (see Fig. 1).

Bottom Line: Conflicting results have been obtained, however, perhaps because response magnitude can be influenced by other factors such as attention.The results demonstrate significantly greater effects of unique environment in the word and pseudoword conditions compared to the consonant string and false font conditions both in VWFA and in left striate cortex.These findings provide direct evidence for environmental contributions to the neural architecture for reading, and suggest that learning phonology and/or orthographic patterns plays the biggest role in shaping that architecture.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America. Joonkoo.park@duke.edu

ABSTRACT
The visual word form area (VWFA) is a region of left inferior occipitotemporal cortex that is critically involved in visual word recognition. Previous studies have investigated whether and how experience shapes the functional characteristics of VWFA by comparing neural response magnitude in response to words and nonwords. Conflicting results have been obtained, however, perhaps because response magnitude can be influenced by other factors such as attention. In this study, we measured neural activity in monozygotic twins, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. This allowed us to quantify differences in unique environmental contributions to neural activation evoked by words, pseudowords, consonant strings, and false fonts in the VWFA and striate cortex. The results demonstrate significantly greater effects of unique environment in the word and pseudoword conditions compared to the consonant string and false font conditions both in VWFA and in left striate cortex. These findings provide direct evidence for environmental contributions to the neural architecture for reading, and suggest that learning phonology and/or orthographic patterns plays the biggest role in shaping that architecture.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus