Abstract

Functional neuroimaging and lesion studies have frequently reported thalamic and putamen activation during reading and speech production. However, it is currently unknown how activity in these structures interacts with that in other reading and speech production areas. This study investigates how reading aloud modulates the neuronal interactions between visual recognition and articulatory areas, when both the putamen and thalamus are explicitly included. Using dynamic causal modeling in skilled readers who were reading regularly spelled English words, we compared 27 possible pathways that might connect the ventral anterior occipito-temporal sulcus (aOT) to articulatory areas in the precentral cortex (PrC). We focused on whether the neuronal interactions within these pathways were increased by reading relative to picture naming and other visual and articulatory control conditions. The results provide strong evidence that reading boosts the aOT–PrC pathway via the putamen but not the thalamus. However, the putamen pathway was not exclusive because there was also evidence for another reading pathway that did not involve either the putamen or the thalamus. We conclude that the putamen plays a special role in reading but this is likely to vary with individual reading preferences and strategies.

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