The transition from vision to language: Distinct patterns of functional connectivity for subregions of the visual word form area

Maya Yablonski, Iliana I. Karipidis, Emily Kubota, Jason D. Yeatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reading entails transforming visual symbols to sound and meaning. This process depends on specialized circuitry in the visual cortex, the visual word form area (VWFA). Recent findings suggest that this text-selective cortex comprises at least two distinct subregions: the more posterior VWFA-1 is sensitive to visual features, while the more anterior VWFA-2 processes higher level language information. Here, we explore whether these two subregions also exhibit different patterns of functional connectivity. To this end, we capitalize on two complementary datasets: Using the Natural Scenes Dataset (NSD), we identify text-selective responses in high-quality 7T adult data (N = 8), and investigate functional connectivity patterns of VWFA-1 and VWFA-2 at the individual level. We then turn to the Healthy Brain Network (HBN) database to assess whether these patterns replicate in a large developmental sample (N = 224; age 6–20 years), and whether they relate to reading development. In both datasets, we find that VWFA-1 is primarily correlated with bilateral visual regions. In contrast, VWFA-2 is more strongly correlated with language regions in the frontal and lateral parietal lobes, particularly the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus. Critically, these patterns do not generalize to adjacent face-selective regions, suggesting a specific relationship between VWFA-2 and the frontal language network. No correlations were observed between functional connectivity and reading ability. Together, our findings support the distinction between subregions of the VWFA, and suggest that functional connectivity patterns in the ventral temporal cortex are consistent over a wide range of reading skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26655
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords

  • functional connectivity
  • language
  • reading
  • resting-state fMRI
  • visual cortex
  • visual word form area

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