The neural basis of the right visual field advantage in reading: an MEG analysis using virtual electrodes

Laura Barca, Piers Cornelissen, Michael Simpson, Uzma Urooj, Will Woods, Andrew W. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Right-handed participants respond more quickly and more accurately to written words presented in the right visual field (RVF) than in the left visual field (LVF). Previous attempts to identify the neural basis of the RVF advantage have had limited success. Experiment 1 was a behavioral study of lateralized word naming which established that the words later used in Experiment 2 showed a reliable RVF advantage which persisted over multiple repetitions. In Experiment 2, the same words were interleaved with scrambled words and presented in the LVF and RVF to right-handed participants seated in an MEG scanner. Participants read the real words silently and responded “pattern” covertly to the scrambled words. A beamformer analysis created statistical maps of changes in oscillatory power within the brain. Those whole-brain maps revealed activation of the reading network by both LVF and RVF words. Virtual electrode analyses used the same beamforming method to reconstruct the responses to real and scrambled words in three regions of interest in both hemispheres. The middle occipital gyri showed faster and stronger responses to contralateral than to ipsilateral stimuli, with evidence of asymmetric channeling of information into the left hemisphere. The left mid fusiform gyrus at the site of the ‘visual word form area’ responded more strongly to RVF than to LVF words. Activity in speech-motor cortex was lateralized to the left hemisphere, and stronger to RVF than LVF words, which is interpreted as representing the proximal cause of the RVF advantage for naming written words.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-71
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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