Functional and anatomical dissociation between the orthographic lexicon and the orthographic buffer revealed in reading and writing Chinese characters by fMRI

Hsiang Yu Chen, Erik C. Chang, Sinead H.Y. Chen, Yi Chen Lin, Denise H. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The contribution of orthographic representations to reading and writing has been intensively investigated in the literature. However, the distinction between neuronal correlates of the orthographic lexicon and the orthographic (graphemic) buffer has rarely been examined in alphabetic languages and never been explored in non-alphabetic languages. To determine whether the neural networks associated with the orthographic lexicon and buffer of logographic materials are comparable to those reported in the literature, the present fMRI experiment manipulated frequency and the stroke number of Chinese characters in the tasks of form judgment and stroke judgment, which emphasized the processing of character recognition and writing, respectively. It was found that the left fusiform gyrus exhibited higher activation when encountering low-frequency than high-frequency characters in both tasks, which suggested this region to be the locus of the orthographic lexicon that represents the knowledge of character forms. On the other hand, the activations in the posterior part of the left middle frontal gyrus and in the left angular gyrus were parametrically modulated by the stroke number of target characters only in the stroke judgment task, which suggested these regions to be the locus of the orthographic buffer that represents the processing of stroke sequence in writing. These results provide the first evidence for the functional and anatomical dissociation between the orthographic lexicon and buffer in reading and writing Chinese characters. They also demonstrate the critical roles of the left fusiform area and the frontoparietal network to the long-term and short-term representations of orthographic knowledge, respectively, across different orthographies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroImage
Volume129
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Character frequency
  • Character recognition
  • Character stroke number
  • Mental writing
  • Neuroimaging
  • Written production

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