Effects of lexicality, frequency, and spelling-to-sound consistency on the functional anatomy of reading

Neuron. 1999 Sep;24(1):205-18. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80833-8.


Functional neuroimaging was used to investigate three factors that affect reading performance: first, whether a stimulus is a word or pronounceable non-word (lexicality), second, how often a word is encountered (frequency), and third, whether the pronunciation has a predictable spelling-to-sound correspondence (consistency). Comparisons between word naming (reading) and visual fixation scans revealed stimulus-related activation differences in seven regions. A left frontal region showed effects of consistency and lexicality, indicating a role in orthographic to phonological transformation. Motor cortex showed an effect of consistency bilaterally, suggesting that motoric processes beyond high-level representations of word phonology influence reading performance. Implications for the integration of these results into theoretical models of word reading are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Phonetics*
  • Reading*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Vocabulary*