Word and object recognition during reading acquisition: MEG evidence / Reconnaissance des mots et des objets pendant l'apprentissage de la lecture: une étude par MEG

SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE / ARTICLE SCIENTIFIQUE

Caffarra, S., Martin, C. D., Lizarazu, M., Lallier, M., Zarraga, A., Molinaro, N., & Carreiras, M. (2017). Word and object recognition during reading acquisition: MEG evidence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 21-32.

DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.01.002

Highlights

  • This MEG study investigates the effect of reading acquisition on children’s brain. / 
    Cette étude par MEG s'intéresse à l'effet de l'apprentissage de la lecture sur le cerveau des enfants.
     
  • Children’s left language network is activated by written words as reading improves. /
    Le réseau du langage des enfants de l'hémisphère gauche est activé par les mots écrits à mesure que l'habileté en lecture se développe.
     
  • Reading expertise does not have a strong impact on children’s spoken words analysis. /
    L'expertise en lecture n'a pas un impact important sur l'analyse par les enfants des mots parlés.
     
  • In object recognition the left hemisphere involvement increases as reading improves. /
    L'implication de l'hémisphère gauche dans la reconnaissance des objets augmente à mesure que l'habileté en lecture se développe.

Abstract

Studies on adults suggest that reading-induced brain changes might not be limited to linguistic processes. It is still unclear whether these results can be generalized to reading development. The present study shows to which extent neural responses to verbal and nonverbal stimuli are reorganized while children learn to read. MEG data of thirty Basque children (4–8y) were collected while they were presented with written words, spoken words and visual objects. The evoked fields elicited by the experimental stimuli were compared to their scrambled counterparts. Visual words elicited left posterior (200–300 ms) and temporal activations (400–800 ms). The size of these effects increased as reading performance improved, suggesting a reorganization of children’s visual word responses. Spoken words elicited greater left temporal responses relative to scrambles (300–700 ms). No evidence for the influence of reading expertise was observed. Brain responses to objects were greater than to scrambles in bilateral posterior regions (200–500 ms). There was a greater left hemisphere involvement as reading errors decreased, suggesting a strengthened verbal decoding of visual configurations with reading acquisition. The present results reveal that learning to read not only influences written word processing, but also affects visual object recognition, suggesting a non-language specific impact of reading on children’s neural mechanisms.

 

KeywordsMEG; Reading acquisition; Visual word recognition; Speech processing; Object recognition