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Journal Article

Differential activation of object-selective visual areas by passive viewing of pictures and words

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Reinholz, J., & Pollmann, S. (2005). Differential activation of object-selective visual areas by passive viewing of pictures and words. Cognitive Brain Research, 24(3), 702-714. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.04.009.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-AB5E-3
Functional imaging has shown that pictures of faces (N. Kanwisher, J. McDermott, M.M. Chun, The fusiform face area: a module in human extrastriate cortex specialized for face perception, J. Neurosci. 17 (1997) 4302-4311) and buildings (R. Epstein, N. Kanwisher, A cortical representation of the local visual environment, Nature 391 (1998) 598-601) activate different regions within the lateral occipital complex (LOC). To investigate effects of stimulus format on activation in these areas, we used event-related fMRI to measure brain activity during the passive viewing of pictures showing buildings and faces, and of words identifying these pictures. Consistent with earlier findings, pictures of faces activated bilateral regions in the lateral fusiform gyri, whereas pictures of buildings activated bilateral regions in the parahippocampal gyri. Analyzing the activation elicited by visually presenting the written names of the pictures, however, we did not find an effect of word meaning on the fMRI signal change in these areas: fMRI signal changes for the names of faces and the names of buildings did not differ in any of the areas selectively activated by the corresponding pictures. In general, both word conditions and non-preferred picture conditions elicited similar signal amplitudes. While presentation of words did not lead to strong activation in object-specific areas, activation for words of both categories was found in the left occipito-temporal cortex, close to the location which has tentatively been called 'visual word form area' (L. Cohen, S. Dehaene, L. Naccache, S. Lehéricy, G. Dehaene-Lambertz, et al., The visual word form are: spatial and temporal characterization of an initial stage of reading in normal subjects and posterior split-brain patients, Brain 123 (2000) 291-307), revealing that words were processed effectively during the experiment. Taken together, these results show that names of pictures do not automatically activate the corresponding object-selective areas.