Seeing words involves the activity of neural circuitry within a small region in human ventral temporal cortex known as the visual word form area (VWFA). It is widely asserted that VWFA responses, which are essential for skilled reading, do not depend on the visual field position of the writing (position invariant). Such position invariance supports the hypothesis that the VWFA analyzes word forms at an abstract level, far removed from specific stimulus features. Using functional MRI pattern-classification techniques, we show that position information is encoded in the spatial pattern of VWFA responses. A right-hemisphere homolog (rVWFA) shows similarly position-sensitive responses. Furthermore, electrophysiological recordings in the human brain show position-sensitive VWFA response latencies. These findings show that position-sensitive information is present in the neural circuitry that conveys visual word form information to language areas. The presence of position sensitivity in the VWFA has implications for how word forms might be learned and stored within the reading circuitry.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1121304109
View details for Web of Science ID 000305511300011
View details for PubMedID 22570498