Developmental differences of neurocognitive networks for phonological and semantic processing in Chinese word reading
Developmental differences in the neurocognitive networks for phonological and semantic processing in Chinese word reading were examined in 13 adults and 13 children using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Rhyming and semantic association judgments were made to two-character words that were presented sequentially in the visual modality. These lexical tasks were compared with a nonlinguistic control task involving judgment of line patterns. The first main finding was that adults showed greater activation than children in right middle occipital gyrus on both the meaning and rhyming task, suggesting adults more effectively engage right hemisphere brain regions involved in the visual-spatial analysis of Chinese characters. The second main finding was that adults showed greater activation than children in left inferior parietal lobule for the rhyming as compared with the meaning task, suggesting greater specialization of phonological processing in adults. The third main finding was that children who had better performance in the rhyming task on characters with conflicting orthographic and phonological information relative to characters with nonconflicting information showed greater activation in left middle frontal gyrus, suggesting greater engagement of brain regions involved in the integration of orthography and phonology.