Functional imaging studies have established cortical networks for reading alphabetic, syllabic and logographic scripts. There is little information about the different cortical areas that participate in reading an alphasyllabary. We use functional brain imaging to study the reading network for Devanagari, an alphasyllabary. Similar to syllabic scripts, the basic phonological unit that corresponds to a grapheme in Devanagari, called an akshara, is a syllable but the component consonant and vowel within akshara can always be visually analyzed giving it the appearance of an alphabetic system. Unlike an alphabetic system wherein arrangement of consonants and vowels is linear, in Devanagari, vowels can also be placed linearly in a sequential manner or non-linearly, above or below, making it visuospatially complex. In this study we used functional neuroimaging to ascertain the cortical reading network when 10 native speakers of Hindi, read linear words in Devanagari. Akin to other word reading studies, we find activation in the mid-fusiform gyrus (visual word form area, BA 37). Region of interest analysis shows involvement of left superior temporal gyrus (BA 41), inferior (BA 40) and superior parietal (BA 7) lobules. These findings suggest that the reading network for Devanagari, an alphasyllabary encompasses cortical areas involved in reading both alphabetic and syllabic writing systems.
Reading and Writing – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 4, 2010
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