This study investigates word and object processing during naming and viewing tasks and identifies three distinct regions in the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex. Irrespective of task, words and objects (relative to meaningless visual controls) activated the medial surface of the left anterior fusiform gyrus, a region that has previously been associated with semantic knowledge. A more lateral region was differentially active for naming words and objects relative to viewing the same stimuli and a more posterior region was differentially active for objects relative to words irrespective of task. In addition, we found that word processing resulted in greater activation than object processing on the dorsal surface of the left superior temporal gyrus and the left supramarginal gyrus. These regions appear to be important for converting orthography into phonology; their response to words irrespective of task is consistent with established psychological evidence that implicit phonological processing is stronger for words than objects.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.