J. Levy, C. Pernet, S. Treserras, K. Boulanouar, I. Berry, F. Aubry, J. F. Demonet, P. Celsis



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Neuroimaging studies of reading converge to suggest that linguistically elementary stimuli are confined to the activation of bilateral posterior regions, whereas linguistically complex stimuli additionally recruit left hemispheric anterior regions, raising the hypotheses of a gradual bilateral-to-left and a posterior-to-anterior recruitment of reading related areas. Here, we tested these two hypotheses by contrasting a repertoire of eight categories of stimuli ranging from simple orthographic-like characters to words and pseudowords in a single experiment, and by measuring BOLD signal changes and connectivity while 16 fluent readers passively viewed the stimuli. Our results confirm the existence of a bilateral-to-left and posterior-to-anterior recruitment of reading related areas, straightforwardly resulting from the increase in stimuli’s linguistic processing load, which reflects reading processes: visual analysis, orthographic encoding and phonological decoding. Connectivity analyses strengthened the validity of these observations and additionally revealed an enhancement of the left parieto-frontal information trafficking for higher linguistic processing. Our findings clearly establish the notion of a gradual spatio-functional recruitment of reading areas and demonstrate, to the best of our knowledge, the first evidence of a robust and staged link between the level of linguistic processing, the spatial distribution of brain activity and its information trafficking. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.