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    Picturing words? Sensorimotor cortex activation for printed words in child and adult readers

    Dekker, Tessa and Mareschal, Denis and Johnson, Mark H. and Sereno, Martin I. (2014) Picturing words? Sensorimotor cortex activation for printed words in child and adult readers. Brain and Language 139 , pp. 58-67. ISSN 0093-934X.

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    Learning to read involves associating abstract visual shapes with familiar meanings. Embodiment theories suggest that word meaning is at least partially represented in distributed sensorimotor networks in the brain (Barsalou, 2008; Pulvermueller, 2013). We explored how reading comprehension develops by tracking when and how printed words start activating these “semantic” sensorimotor representations as children learn to read. Adults and children aged 7–10 years showed clear category-specific cortical specialization for tool versus animal pictures during a one-back categorisation task. Thus, sensorimotor representations for these categories were in place at all ages. However, co-activation of these same brain regions by the visual objects’ written names was only present in adults, even though all children could read and comprehend all presented words, showed adult-like task performance, and older children were proficient readers. It thus takes years of training and expert reading skill before spontaneous processing of printed words’ sensorimotor meanings develops in childhood.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Sensory cortex, Motor cortex, Embodiment, fMRI, Child, Reading comprehension, Animals, Utensils, Objects, Words
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Educational Neuroscience, Centre for, Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2014 09:55
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:13


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