Changes in cortical activation during mirror reading before and after training: an fMRI study of procedural learning

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2001 Jan;10(3):207-17. doi: 10.1016/s0926-6410(00)00037-9.


The neural correlates of procedural learning were studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the mirror reading paradigm. The aim of the study was to investigate a presumed learning-related change of activation in cortical areas that are involved in the performance of a nonmotor skill. Changes in cortical blood oxygenation contrast were recorded in 10 healthy subjects while they alternatively read visually presented single mirror script words and normal script words. Responses in naive subjects were compared to those acquired after training of mirror script reading. The acquisition volume included the motor and premotor cortex, the parietal lobe and the occipital lobe including its inferior aspects. Striate and extrastriate visual areas, associative parietal cortex and the premotor cortex were bilaterally active during normal and mirror script reading. Significantly stronger activation during mirror reading was seen in BA7 and 40 (parietal associative cortex) and in BA6 (corresponding to the frontal eye fields). Simultaneous eye movement recordings indicated that activation in BA6 was related to processing components other than saccade frequency. After training, BA6 and BA7 exhibited a decrease of activation during mirror reading that significantly exceeded nonspecific changes observed in the normal script control condition. The present findings confirm the hypothesis of practice-related decrease of activation in task-related cortical areas during nonmotor procedural learning.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Reading*
  • Saccades / physiology