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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 2000, Vol. 12, No. 5, Pages 753-762.
(doi: 10.1162/089892900562570)
© 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abnormal Functional Activation During a Simple Word Repetition Task: A PET Study of Adult Dyslexics
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Eight dyslexic subjects, impaired on a range of tasks requiring phonological processing, were matched for age and general ability with six control subjects. Participants were scanned using positron emission tomography (PET) during three conditions: repeating real words, repeating pseudowords, and rest. In both groups, speech repetition relative to rest elicited widespread bilateral activation in areas associated with auditory processing of speech; there were no significant differences between words and pseudowords. However, irrespective of word type, the dyslexic group showed less activation than the control group in the right superior temporal and right post-central gyri and also in the left cerebellum. Notably, the right anterior superior temporal cortex (Brodmann's area 22 [BA 22]) was less activated in each of the eight dyslexic subjects, compared to each of the six control subjects. This deficit appears to be specific to auditory repetition as it was not detected in a previous study of reading which used the same sets of stimuli (Brunswick, N., McCrory, E., Price, C., Frith, C.D., & Frith, U. [1999]. Explicit and implicit processing of words and pseudowords by adult developmental dyslexics: A search for Wernicke's Wortschatz? Brain, 122, 1901-1917). This implies that the observed neural manifestation of developmental dyslexia is task-specific (i.e., functional rather than structural). Other studies of normal subjects indicate that attending to the phonetic structure of speech leads to a decrease in right-hemisphere processing. Lower right hemisphere activation in the dyslexic group may therefore indicate less processing of non-phonetic aspects of speech, allowing greater salience to be accorded to phonological aspects of attended speech.