Functional MRI comparison between reading ideographic and phonographic scripts of one language

Brain Lang. 2004 Nov;91(2):245-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2004.03.004.


Brain activation during reading of phonographic (Hangul) and ideographic (Hanja) words is compared using functional MRI by taking advantage of the bi-scriptal system of the Korean language. To examine the psycholinguistic difference, i.e., phonographic vs. ideographic, separately from other differences due to Hanja being a secondary script, we made a control comparison between Hangul and the English alphabet, another phonographic and secondary script. Interaction analysis between the two comparisons revealed that the right fusiform gyrus and adjacent temporo-occipital region, among others, seem more specifically involved in processing ideographic scripts. On the other hand, regions in bilateral inferior parietal lobules were more active with Hangul reading than Hanja. This is consistent with the notion that reading the phonographic script may involve the assembled phonology route in addition to the addressed lexical route, whereas reading the ideographic script may not involve the former.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Korea
  • Language*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Phonetics*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Reading*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology