Where words and space collide: The overlapping neural activation of lexical and sublexical reading with voluntary and reflexive spatial attention.


Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, 9 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A5, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


Recent research has shown a relationship between reading and attention, however the neuroanatomical overlap of these two processes has remained relatively unexplored. Therefore, we sought to investigate the overlapping neural mechanisms of spatial attention and reading using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants performed two attentional orienting tasks (reflexive and voluntary), and two overt word-reading tasks (lexical and sublexical). We hypothesized that there would be greater unique activation overlap of reflexive attention with lexical reading, and of voluntary attention with sublexical reading. Results indicated that lexical reading had greater overlapping activation in reflexive orienting areas compared to sublexical reading, suggesting that lexical reading may employ more automatic attentional mechanisms. In contrast, sublexical reading had greater overlapping activation with voluntary attention areas compared to lexical reading, suggesting that phonetic decoding may rely more heavily on voluntary attention. This research broadens our understanding of the neural overlap that underlies the relationship between reading and spatial attention.


Lexical reading,Reflexive attention,Sublexical reading,Voluntary attention,