Magnocellular-dorsal pathway function is associated with orthographic but not phonological skill: fMRI evidence from skilled Chinese readers
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AbstractNumerous studies have shown that magnocellular-dorsal (MD) pathway function is highly associated with reading ability, which is mostly indexed by phonological skill in alphabetic languages. However, it is less clear how MD pathway function influences phonological skill. As a logographic language, Chinese does not follow grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules, and thus provides a tool for delineating the effects of orthographic and phonological processing on reading. The current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure MD pathway function in a coherent motion detection task for readers skilled in Chinese. A series of tests was used to assess participants&#39; reading abilities, including orthographic and phonological processing skills. Results showed that several cortical regions of the MD pathway, including bilateral middle temporal visual motion areas (MT+) and the right posterior parietal cortex (PPC), were activated during the coherent motion detection task. Moreover, the activation was positively correlated with rapid naming speed, and greater activation in the left MT+ was associated with superior fluency and reduced accuracy in reading, suggesting that this pathway is also involved in modulating the speed of visual processing during reading. The most important finding was that activation of the right PPC was associated with orthographic awareness, but MD pathway activation was not related to phonological awareness. The results suggest that the MD pathway is highly associated with orthographic processing, which in turn influences more general aspects of reading skill. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.