Nencki Institute Seminar

Dear All

We cordially invite you to the next seminar which will take place on the 21th of April at 3 pm. We will host prof. dr hab. Katarzyna JednorógHead of Laboratory of Language Neurobiology at the Nencki Institute. Professor Jednoróg will give a professorship lecture entitled Brain networks for speech and reading in typical and atypical readers


Literacy is one of the most significant challenges for the reorganization of the human brain. Neural networks that were evolutionarily adapted for speech processing, after reading acquisition, begin to process also written language. Even little experience in reading changes children’s brain response not only to print but also to speech, and better readers engage, among others, the left superior temporal gyrus to a larger extent in both processes. We found converging activation (co-activation) to print and speech in this area, but solely in children who could read. Orthographic transparency (i.e., the transparency of letter to phoneme mapping) is one of the most important environmental factors influencing the pace of literacy acquisition. Comparing brain activity in Polish and American children, we observed speech-print co-activation mostly in left perisylvian regions with limited language variation. Subtle differences in the strength of this coupling were found, suggesting different reading strategies. Next, we compared children who developed dyslexia and those who developed typical reading skills using a longitudinal design. Only in typical readers we observed an increased response to print in the left ventral occipitotemporal cortex (VOT) and inferior frontal gyrus after two years of reading instruction. Hypoactivation in these areas represents a dyslexia-specific atypical developmental trajectory rather than a consequence of lower reading expertise. Finally, we tested congenitally blind individuals who acquired reading using a modality different than usual. The neural networks for Braille and visual reading overlapped in the left VOT. Even though we showed similar perisylvian specialization for speech in both groups, blind subjects did not engage this speech system for reading. Instead, the blind engaged the VOT in reading and speech processing, suggesting that this region belongs to a modality independent language network in the blind. This line of research suggests that speech and reading brain networks are largely shaped by both linguistic and sensory experience.

We will have a hybrid seminar. 

Meeting ID: 982 2223 1110
Passcode: 795926

Best regards
Aleksandra Pękowska

Date of publication
14 April 2022
Date of event
hybrid mode