Prior evidence for early activity in Broca's area during reading may reflect fast access to articulatory codes in left inferior frontal gyrus pars opercularis (LIFGpo). We put this hypothesis to test using a benchmark for articulatory involvement in reading known as the masked onset priming effect (MOPE). In masked onset priming, briefly presented pronounceable strings of letters that share an initial phoneme with subsequently presented target words (e.g., gilp-GAME) facilitate word naming responses compared with unrelated primes (dilp-GAME). Crucially, these priming effects only occur when the task requires articulation (naming), and not when it requires lexical decisions. A standard explanation of masked onset priming is that it reflects fast computation of articulatory output codes from letter representations. We therefore predicted 1) that activity in left IFG pars opercularis would be modulated by masked onset priming, 2) that priming-related modulation in LIFGpo would immediately follow activity in occipital cortex, and 3) that this modulation would be greater for naming than for lexical decision. These predictions were confirmed in a magnetoencephalography (MEG) priming study. MOPEs emerged in left IFG at similar to 100 ms posttarget onset, and the priming effects were more sustained when the task involved articulation.
Klein, M., Grainger, J., Wheat, K. L., Millman, R. E., Simpson, M. I., Hansen, P. C., & Cornelissen, P. L. (2015). Early activity in Broca's area during reading reflects fast access to articulatory codes from print. Cerebral Cortex, 25(7), 1715-1723. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bht350