Word contexts enhance the neural representation of individual letters in early visual cortex
Number of pages
SourceNature Communications, 11, (2020), article 321
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Predictive Brain
SW OZ DCC BO
PI Group Neurobiology of Language
SW OZ DCC PL
SW OZ DCC CO
Subject110 000 Neurocognition of Language; 180 000 Predictive Brain; Action, intention, and motor control; Language in Interaction
Visual context facilitates perception, but how this is neurally implemented remains unclear. One example of contextual facilitation is found in reading, where letters are more easily identified when embedded in a word. Bottom-up models explain this word advantage as a post-perceptual decision bias, while top-down models propose that word contexts enhance perception itself. Here, we arbitrate between these accounts by presenting words and nonwords and probing the representational fidelity of individual letters using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In line with top-down models, we find that word contexts enhance letter representations in early visual cortex. Moreover, we observe increased coupling between letter information in visual cortex and brain activity in key areas of the reading network, suggesting these areas may be the source of the enhancement. Our results provide evidence for top-down representational enhancement in word recognition, demonstrating that word contexts can modulate perceptual processing already at the earliest visual regions.
NWO (Grant code:info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/NWO/Gravitation/024.001.006)
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