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Building the supramodal language brain

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The potential to derive equivalent meanings from speech and print is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the human brain and one that makes literacy possible. The full achievement of this potential requires years of training, hence integration of the brain’s response to sentence material in the two modalities can be expected to vary as a function of reading experience. This research exploits functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to study the distribution of brain activity during comprehension tasks in speech and print modalities in persons who vary in reading skill. Although studies from several laboratories have identified brain regions that respond similarly to speech and print, the architecture of the supramodal language system has not been fully delineated, and the influence of reading experience on this architecture has only recently begun to be studied. Findings of this research support the hypothesis that degrees of reading skill are represented by localized, graded cortical convergence of print-generated activity with that emanating from speech.

This talk is part of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education (CNE) series.

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