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FMRI-MINI SYMPOSIA Table of Contents   
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-50
Reading in Devanagari: Insights from functional neuroimaging

National Brain Research Centre, NH-8, Nainwal Mode, Manesar, Gurgaon, Haryana, India

Correspondence Address:
Nandini Chatterjee Singh
NH-8, Nainwal Mode, Manesar - 122050, Gurgaon, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Read associated Erratum: Erratum with this article

DOI: 10.4103/0971-3026.130691

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Objectives: The current study used functional MRI (fMRI) to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the neural network underlying visual word recognition in Hindi/Devanagari, an alphasyllabic - partly alphabetic and partly syllabic Indian writing system on which little research has hitherto been carried out. Materials and Methods: Sixteen (5F, 11M) neurologically healthy, native Hindi/Devanagari readers aged 21 to 50 named aloud 240 Devanagari words which were either visually linear - had no diacritics or consonant ligatures above or below central plane of text, e.g. फल, वाहन, or nonlinear - had at least one diacritic and/or ligature, e.g. फूल, किरण, and which further included 120 words each of high and low frequency. Words were presented in alternating high and low frequency blocks of 10 words each at 2s/word in a block design, with linear and nonlinear words in separate runs. Word reading accuracy was manually coded, while fMRI images were acquired on a 3T scanner with an 8-channel head-coil, using a T2*-weighted EPI sequence (TR/TE = 2s/35ms). Results: After ensuring high word naming accuracy (M = 97.6%, SD = 2.3), fMRI data analyses (at FDR P < 0.005) revealed that reading Devanagari words elicited robust activations in bilateral occipito-temporal, inferior frontal and precentral regions as well as both cerebellar hemispheres. Other common areas of activation included left inferior parietal and right superior temporal cortices. Primary differences seen between nonlinear and linear word reading networks were in the right temporal areas and cerebellum. Conclusion: Distinct from alphabetic scripts, which are linear in their spatial organization, and recruit a primarily left-lateralized network for word reading, our results revealed a bilateral reading network for Devanagari. We attribute the additional activations in Devanagari to increased visual processing demands arising from the complex visuospatial arrangement of symbols in this ancient script.

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