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Multi- and unisensory decoding of words and nonwords result in differential brain responses in dyslexic and nondyslexic adults

Publication Date
  • Institute Of Psychology
  • 150 Psychology
  • Design
  • Linguistics


The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study was designed, in order to investigate the neural substrates involved in the audiovisual processing of disyllabic German words and pseudowords. Twelve dyslexic and 13 nondyslexic adults performed a lexical decision task while stimuli were presented unimodally (either aurally or visually) or bimodally (audiovisually simultaneously). The behavioral data collected during the experiment evidenced more accurate processing for bimodally than for unimodally presented stimuli irrespective of group. Words were processed faster than pseudowords. Notably, no group differences have been found for either accuracy or for reaction times. With respect to brain responses, nondyslexic compared to dyslexic adults elicited stronger hemodynamic responses in the leftward supramarginal gyrus (SMG), as well as in the right hemispheric superior temporal sulcus (STS). Furthermore, dyslexic compared to nondyslexic adults showed reduced responses to only aurally presented signals and enhanced hemodynamic responses to audiovisual, as well as visual stimulation in the right anterior insula. Our behavioral results evidence that the two groups easily identified the two-syllabic proper nouns that we provided them with. Our fMRI results indicate that dyslexics show less neuronal involvement of heteromodal and extrasylvian regions, namely, the STS, SMG, and insula when decoding phonological information. We posit that dyslexic adults evidence deficient functioning of word processing, which could possibly be attributed to deficits in phoneme to grapheme mapping. This problem may be caused by impaired audiovisual processing in multimodal areas.

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