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Orthographic transparency modulates the functional asymmetry in the fusiform cortex: an artificial language training study.


The laterality difference in the occipitotemporal region between Chinese (bilaterality) and alphabetic languages (left laterality) has been attributed to their difference in visual appearance. However, these languages also differ in orthographic transparency. To disentangle the effect of orthographic transparency from visual appearance, we trained subjects to read the same artificial script either as an alphabetic (i.e., transparent orthography) or a logographic (i.e., nontransparent orthography) language. Consistent with our previous results, both types of phonological training enhanced activations in the left fusiform gyrus. More interestingly, the laterality in the fusiform gyrus (especially the posterior region) was modulated by the orthographic transparency of the artificial script (more left-lateralized activation after alphabetic training than after logographic training). These results provide an alternative account (i.e., orthographic transparency) for the laterality difference between Chinese and alphabetic languages, and may have important implications for the role of the fusiform in reading.

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