The literate brain: The relationship between spelling and reading

Brenda Rapp, Kate Lipka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


We report the results of an fMRI investigation of the neural bases of written language comprehension (reading) and production (spelling). Both tasks were examined in the same individuals, allowing greater precision in establishing the relationship between the neural underpinnings of these two cognitive functions. Also examined was the relationship between written language substrates and those involved in face and object (house) processing. The results reveal that reading and spelling share specific left hemisphere substrates in the mid-fusiform gyrus and in the inferior frontal gyrus/junction. Furthermore, the results indicate that the left mid-fusiform substrates are specifically involved in lexical orthographic processing. We also find that written language and face processing exhibit largely complementary activation patterns in both the fusiform and the inferior frontal/junction areas, with left and right lateralization, respectively. In sum, these results provide perhaps the strongest evidence to date of components that are shared by written language comprehension (reading) and production (spelling), and they further our understanding of the role of literacy within the larger repertoire of cognitive operations and their neural substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1180-1197
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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