Word filter in the brain separates known and unknown words

A filtering process in the brain is responsible for the fact that we can separate known from unfamiliar words when reading. An international team of researchers from the University of Vienna and the Goethe University Frankfurt has now succeeded in localizing this filter in the lower left temporal lobe using functional magnetic resonance therapy. They have thus identified a core process of reading that has not yet been described, they report.

Only known words are allowed to “pass”

The results of the study have been published in the journal “PLOS Computational Biology”. “Writing is and will remain an important information technology,” said Benjamin Gagl, formerly a postdoc at the Institute for Linguistics at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Psychology at the University of Frankfurt, on Monday in a broadcast by the University of Vienna. The team led by Christian from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Frankfurt, on Monday in a broadcast from the University of Vienna.

The team, led by Christian Fiebach, developed a model that uses established behavioral findings from psychology to predict the level of activation of this reading area in the brain. The model assumes that the lower left temporal lobe acts as a filter to separate already known words from meaningless or not yet known sequences of letters and only allows known words to “pass” to subsequent processes of meaning processing.

With the help of the “lexical categorization model”, the reading behavior of the test participants can be well described, but precise predictions can also be made about brain activation. In addition, a behavioral study showed that reading performance improves through training in the filtering process.

“These results are a milestone in our understanding of reading processes,” says Fiebach. The exact modeling of cognitive processes in the human brain will make it possible to understand thought and perception processes much better. This could show new training approaches to compensate for functional disorders, such as in the area of ​​​​reading and spelling difficulties.

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