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Most previous studies investigating the neural correlates of reading have presented text using serial visual presentation (SVP), which may not fully reflect the underlying processes of natural reading. In the present study, eye movements and BOLD data were collected while subjects either read normal paragraphs naturally or moved their eyes through “paragraphs” of pseudo-text (pronounceable pseudowords or consonant letter strings) in two pseudo-reading conditions. Eye movement data established that subjects were reading and scanning the stimuli normally. A conjunction fMRI analysis across natural- and pseudo-reading showed that a common eye-movement network including frontal eye fields (FEF), supplementary eye fields (SEF), and intraparietal sulci was activated, consistent with previous studies using simpler eye movement tasks. In addition, natural reading versus pseudo-reading showed different patterns of brain activation: normal reading produced activation in a well-established language network that included superior temporal gyrus/sulcus, middle temporal gyrus (MTG), angular gyrus (AG), inferior frontal gyrus, and middle frontal gyrus, whereas pseudo-reading produced activation in an attentional network that included anterior/posterior cingulate and parietal cortex. These results are consistent with results found in previous single-saccade eye movement tasks and SVP reading studies, suggesting that component processes of eye-movement control and language processing observed in past fMRI research generalize to natural reading. The results also suggest that combining eyetracking and fMRI is a suitable method for investigating the component processes of natural reading in fMRI research.


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© Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2014, Frontiers

Choi, W., Desai, R. H., & Henderson, J. M. (2014). The neural substrates of natural reading: a comparison of normal and nonword text using eyetracking and fMRI. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.