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Publication Detail
Dissociating the functions of superior and inferior parts of the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex during visual word and object processing.
During word and object recognition, extensive activation has consistently been observed in the left ventral occipito-temporal cortex (vOT), focused around the occipito-temporal sulcus (OTs). Previous studies have shown that there is a hierarchy of responses from posterior to anterior vOT regions (along the y-axis) that corresponds with increasing levels of recognition - from perceptual to semantic processing, respectively. In contrast, the functional differences between superior and inferior vOT responses (i.e. along the z-axis) have not yet been elucidated. To investigate, we conducted an extensive review of the literature and found that peak activation for reading varies by more than 1 cm in the z-axis. In addition, we investigated functional differences between superior and inferior parts of left vOT by analysing functional MRI data from 58 neurologically normal skilled readers performing 8 different visual processing tasks. We found that group activation in superior vOT was significantly more sensitive than inferior vOT to the type of task, with more superior vOT activation when participants were matching visual stimuli for their semantic or perceptual content than producing speech to the same stimuli. This functional difference along the z-axis was compared to existing boundaries between cytoarchitectonic areas around the OTs. In addition, using dynamic causal modelling, we show that connectivity from superior vOT to anterior vOT increased with semantic content during matching tasks but not during speaking tasks whereas connectivity from inferior vOT to anterior vOT was sensitive to semantic content for matching and speaking tasks. The finding of a functional dissociation between superior and inferior parts of vOT has implications for predicting deficits and response to rehabilitation for patients with partial damage to vOT following stroke or neurosurgery.
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