The speed and accuracy with which subjects can read words is enhanced or "primed" by a prior presentation of the same words. Moreover, priming effects are generally larger when the physical form of the words is maintained from the first to the second presentation. We investigated the neural basis of format-specific priming in a mirror word-reading task using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants read words that were presented either in mirror-image (M) orientation or in normal (N) orientation and were repeated either in the same or the alternate orientation, creating 4 study-test conditions, N-N, M-N, N-M, and M-M. Priming of N words resulted in reductions in fMRI signal in multiple brain regions, even though reading times (RTs) were unchanged. Priming of M words showed a pattern of RTs consistent with format-specific priming, with greater reductions when the prime matched the form of the test word. Priming-related reductions in fMRI activity were evident in all regions involved in mirror-image reading, regardless of the orientation of the prime. Importantly, reductions in several posterior regions, including fusiform, superior parietal, and superior temporal regions were also format specific. That is, signal reductions in these regions were greatest when the visual form of the prime and target matched (M-M compared with N-M). The results indicate that, although there are global neural priming effects due to stimulus repetition, it is also possible to identify regional brain changes that are sensitive to the specific perceptual overlap of primes and targets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience