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This article is part of the supplement: Seventeenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2008

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The reverse connectivity pattern between Broca's area and the left visual word form area in the processing of Chinese words and English characters

Yi-Yuan Tang12*, Shigang Feng1, Qingbao Yu1 and Qilin Lu1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Neuroinformatics and Laboratory for Brain and Mind, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116024, China

2 Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9(Suppl 1):P33  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-S1-P33

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:11 July 2008

© 2008 Tang et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


A recent notable controversy in language processing is whether there is a particular brain area specialized for visual word recognition within the visual ventral stream. Some researchers proposed that the left middle temporal fusiform gyrus is particularly responsible for visual word processing and then named this area as the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) [1], while others disagreed [2]. Three types of stimuli in Chinese and English – Real characters (semantic and orthographic), Pseudo characters (orthographic), and Artificial characters (similar part feature) – were examined in a reading task. Fourteen Subjects (seven females, seven males), all aged 19–22 years, with a university education, and fully right-handed, participated in the study. We recruited a 1.5T fMRI GE scanner to acquire imaging data. Data analysis was performed with SPM99. After being realigned, normalized, smoothed (6*6*8 mm), and low-pass filtered, a random-effect group analyses was conducted by using a one-sample t-test in the basic model toolbox. The within-condition interregional covariance analysis (WICA) method for Region of Interest (ROI)-based functional connectivity analysis was used to demonstrate the connectivity pattern between Broca's area and the left visual word form area in the processing of Chinese words and English characters [3,4]. We hypothesized that the left VWFA may orchestrate with Broca's area to respond to the different task demands.

Results and conclusions

The activation map was consistent with the previous findings with Chinese words and English characters processing while the connectivity analysis between Broca's area and the left VWFA indicated a reverse pattern. Our results provide strong evidence for VWFA in processing Chinese characters similar to that found in alphabetic scripts and hence support the hypothesis that left VWFA cooperates with Broca's area to respond to the different task demands [5].


This work was supported in part by National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant 30670699, Ministry of Education Grant NCET-06-0277 and 021010.


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