The impact of task demand on visual word recognition

J. Yang*, J. Zevin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The left occipitotemporal cortex has been found sensitive to the hierarchy of increasingly complex features in visually presented words, from individual letters to bigrams and morphemes. However, whether this sensitivity is a stable property of the brain regions engaged by word recognition is still unclear. To address the issue, the current study investigated whether different task demands modify this sensitivity. Participants viewed real English words and stimuli with hierarchical word-likeness while performing a lexical decision task (i.e., to decide whether each presented stimulus is a real word) and a symbol detection task. General linear model and independent component analysis indicated strong activation in the fronto-parietal and temporal regions during the two tasks. Furthermore, the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and insula showed significant interaction effects between task demand and stimulus type in the pseudoword condition. The occipitotemporal cortex showed strong main effects for task demand and stimulus type, but no sensitivity to the hierarchical word-likeness was found. These results suggest that different task demands on semantic, phonological and orthographic processes can influence the involvement of the relevant regions during visual word recognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)102-115
    Number of pages14
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2014


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