Learning to read requires the formation of efficient neural associations between written and spoken language. Whether these associations influence the auditory cortical representation of speech remains unknown. Here we address this question by combining multivariate functional MRI analysis and a newly-developed ‘text-based recalibration’ paradigm. In this paradigm, the pairing of visual text and ambiguous speech sounds shifts (i.e. recalibrates) the perceptual interpretation of the ambiguous sounds in subsequent auditory-only trials. We show that it is possible to retrieve the text-induced perceptual interpretation from fMRI activity patterns in the posterior superior temporal cortex. Furthermore, this auditory cortical region showed significant functional connectivity with the inferior parietal lobe (IPL) during the pairing of text with ambiguous speech. Our findings indicate that reading-related audiovisual mappings can adjust the auditory cortical representation of speech in typically reading adults. Additionally, they suggest the involvement of the IPL in audiovisual and/or higher-order perceptual processes leading to this adjustment. When applied in typical and dyslexic readers of different ages, our text-based recalibration paradigm may reveal relevant aspects of perceptual learning and plasticity during successful and failing reading development.
Bonte, M., Correia, J. M., Keetels, M. N., Vroomen, J., & Formisano, E. (2017). Reading-induced shifts of perceptual speech representations in auditory cortex. Scientific Reports, 7(1), [5143 ]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05356-3