Universal brain signature of proficient reading: Evidence from four contrasting languages

Jay G. Rueckl, Pedro M. Paz-Alonso, Peter J. Molfese, Wen Jui Kuo, Atira Bick, Stephen J. Frost, Roeland Hancock, Denise H. Wu, William Einar Mencl, Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, Jun Ren Lee, Myriam Oliver, Jason D. Zevin, Fumiko Hoeft, Manuel Carreiras, Ovid J.L. Tzeng, Kenneth R. Pugh, Ram Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We propose and test a theoretical perspective in which a universal hallmark of successful literacy acquisition is the convergence of the speech and orthographic processing systems onto a common network of neural structures, regardless of how spoken words are represented orthographically in a writing system. During functionalMRI, skilled adult readers of four distinct and highly contrasting languages, Spanish, English, Hebrew, and Chinese, performed an identical semantic categorization task to spoken and written words. Results from three complementary analytic approaches demonstrate limited language variation, with speech-print convergence emerging as a common brain signature of reading proficiency across the wide spectrum of selected languages, whether their writing system is alphabetic or logographic, whether it is opaque or transparent, and regardless of the phonological and morphological structure it represents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15510-15515
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Issue number50
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 15

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Keywords

  • Cross-language invariance
  • Functional MRI
  • Word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Rueckl, J. G., Paz-Alonso, P. M., Molfese, P. J., Kuo, W. J., Bick, A., Frost, S. J., Hancock, R., Wu, D. H., Einar Mencl, W., Duñabeitia, J. A., Lee, J. R., Oliver, M., Zevin, J. D., Hoeft, F., Carreiras, M., Tzeng, O. J. L., Pugh, K. R., & Frost, R. (2015). Universal brain signature of proficient reading: Evidence from four contrasting languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(50), 15510-15515. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1509321112