Dissociating frontal regions that co-lateralize with different ventral occipitotemporal regions during word processing☆
Language production has been found to be lateralized in the left hemisphere (LH) for 95% of right-handed people and about 75% of left-handers. The prevalence of atypical right hemispheric (RH) or bilateral lateralization for reading and colateralization of production with word reading laterality has never been tested in a large sample. In this study, we scanned 57 left-handers who had previously been identified as being clearly left (N=30), bilateral (N=7) or clearly right (N=20) dominant for speech on the basis of fMRI activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (pars opercularis/pars triangularis) during a silent word generation task. They were asked to perform a lexical decision task, in which words were contrasted against checkerboards, to test the lateralization of reading in the ventral occipitotemporal region. Lateralization indices for both tasks correlated significantly (r=0.59). The majority of subjects showed most activity during lexical decision in the hemisphere that was identified as their word production dominant hemisphere. However, more than half of the sample (N=31) had bilateral activity for the lexical decision task without a clear dominant role for either the LH or RH, and three showed a crossed frontotemporal lateralization pattern. These findings have consequences for neurobiological models relating phonological and orthographic processes, and for lateralization measurements for clinical purposes.