The visual word form system (VWFS), located in the occipito-temporal cortex, is involved in orthographic processing of visually presented words (Cohen et al., 2002). Recent fMRI studies in children and adults have demonstrated a gradient of increasing word-selectivity along the posterior-to-anterior axis of this system (Vinckier et al., 2007), yet whether this pattern is modified by the increased reading experience afforded by age is still in question. In this study, we employed fMRI and an implicit word-processing task, and then used a region of interest analysis approach along the occipito-temporal cortex to test the prediction that the selectivity for words along the extent of the VWFS differs between older experienced and younger novice readers. Our results showed differences between children and adults during word processing in the anterior left occipito-temporal cortex, providing evidence of developmental refinement for word recognition along the VWFS.
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