Skill dependent audiovisual integration in the fusiform induces repetition suppression
Learning to read entails mapping existing phonological representations to novel orthographic representations and is thus an ideal context for investigating experience driven audiovisual integration. Because two dominant brain-based theories of reading development hinge on the sensitivity of the visual-object processing stream to phonological information, we were interested in how reading skill relates to audiovisual integration in this area. Thirty-two children between 8 and 13 years of age spanning a range of reading skill participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. Participants completed a rhyme judgment task to word pairs presented unimodally (auditory- or visual-only) and cross-modally (auditory followed by visual). Skill-dependent sub-additive audiovisual modulation was found in left fusiform gyrus, extending into the putative visual word form area, and was correlated with behavioral orthographic priming. These results suggest learning to read promotes facilitatory audiovisual integration in the ventral visual-object processing stream and may optimize this region for orthographic processing.