The visual word form area: a prelexical representation of visual words in the fusiform gyrus

Neuroreport. 2002 Mar 4;13(3):321-5. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200203040-00015.


Event-related fMRI was used to test the hypothesis that the visual word form area in the left fusiform gyrus holds a modality-specific and prelexical representation of visual words. Subjects were engaged in a repetition-detection task on pairs of words or pronounceable pseudo-words that could be written or spoken. The visual word form area responded only to written stimuli, not to spoken stimuli, independently of their semantic content. We propose that the occasional activation of the fusiform gyrus when listening to spoken words is due to the topdown recruitment of visual orthographic or object representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*