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Integration of Spoken and Written Words in Beginning Readers: A Topographic ERP Study

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Jost Lea B., Eberhard-Moscicka Aleksandra K., Frisch Christine, Dellwo Volker, Maurer Urs,
Project Neural basis of individual differences in foreign language learning in school: effects of dyslexia and immigration
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Brain Topography
Volume (Issue) 27(6)
Page(s) 786 - 800
Title of proceedings Brain Topography
DOI 10.1007/s10548-013-0336-4


Integrating visual and auditory language information is critical for reading. Suppression and congruency effects in audiovisual paradigms with letters and speech sounds have provided information about low-level mechanisms of grapheme-phoneme integration during reading. However, the central question about how such processes relate to reading entire words remains unexplored. Using ERPs, we investigated whether audiovisual integration occurs for words already in beginning readers, and if so, whether this integration is reflected by differences in map strength or topography (aim 1); and moreover, whether such integration is associated with reading fluency (aim 2). A 128-channel EEG was recorded while 69 monolingual (Swiss)-German speaking first-graders performed a detection task with rare targets. Stimuli were presented in blocks either auditorily (A), visually (V) or audiovisually (matching: AVM; nonmatching: AVN). Corresponding ERPs were computed, and unimodal ERPs summated (A ? V = sumAV). We applied TANOVAs to identify time windows with significant integration effects: suppression (sumAV–AVM) and congruency (AVN– AVM). They were further characterized using GFP and 3D-centroid analyses, and significant effects were correlated with reading fluency. The results suggest that audiovisual suppression effects occur for familiar German and unfamiliar English words, whereas audiovisual congruency effects can be found only for familiar German words, probably due to lexical-semantic processes involved. Moreover, congruency effects were characterized by topographic differences, indicating that different sources are active during processing of congruent compared to incongruent audiovisual words. Furthermore, no clear associations between audiovisual integration and reading fluency were found. The degree to which such associations develop in beginning readers remains open to further investigation.