Reading front to back: MEG evidence for early feedback effects during word recognition

Z V J Woodhead, G R Barnes, W Penny, R Moran, S Teki, C J Price, A P Leff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetoencephalography studies in humans have shown word-selective activity in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) approximately 130 ms after word presentation ( Pammer et al. 2004; Cornelissen et al. 2009; Wheat et al. 2010). The role of this early frontal response is currently not known. We tested the hypothesis that the IFG provides top-down constraints on word recognition using dynamic causal modeling of magnetoencephalography data collected, while subjects viewed written words and false font stimuli. Subject-specific dipoles in left and right occipital, ventral occipitotemporal and frontal cortices were identified using Variational Bayesian Equivalent Current Dipole source reconstruction. A connectivity analysis tested how words and false font stimuli differentially modulated activity between these regions within the first 300 ms after stimulus presentation. We found that left inferior frontal activity showed stronger sensitivity to words than false font and a stronger feedback connection onto the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex (vOT) in the first 200 ms. Subsequently, the effect of words relative to false font was observed on feedforward connections from left occipital to ventral occipitotemporal and frontal regions. These findings demonstrate that left inferior frontal activity modulates vOT in the early stages of word processing and provides a mechanistic account of top-down effects during word recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-25
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reading
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Verbal Learning
  • Vocabulary


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