Auditory processing of different types of pseudo-words: An event-related fMRI study

Tim Raettig, Sonja A. Kotz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Imaging results on real word and pseudo-word processing have been heterogeneous, allowing only cautious claims about the neuroanatomical loci of lexico-semantic processing. In order to shed more light on this issue, we examined the impact of different structures of non-lexical stimuli on the outcome of comparisons between such items and matched real words. We anticipated that the degree to which a pseudo-word still resembles a particular real word template determines how word-like it is processed. To verify this idea, we tested different types of pseudo-words (either phonotactically legal and transparently or opaquely derived from real words or phonotactically illegal) in an event-related fMRI paradigm utilizing a lexical decision task. All types of pseudo-words elicited a stronger hemodynamic brain response than real words in the bilateral superior temporal gyri. Real words produced stronger brain activations than pseudo-words in the left posterior middle temporal and angular gyri, the rostral and caudal cingulate gyrus, the precuneus and the right inferior temporal gyrus. When contrasted to opaque pseudo-words transparent pseudo-words elicited a stronger brain response in a temporo-parietal region adjacent to the one observed for real words. Our results provide further support for the involvement of the left posterior middle temporal and angular gyri in lexical-semantic processing. The data also indicate that transparently derived pseudo-words are processed similarly to real words. In contrast, semantic operations are blocked when opaquely derived pseudo-words are processed. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1420-1428
    Number of pages8
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008


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