|||TIMING THE IMPACT OF LITERACY ON VISUAL PROCESSING||Régine Kolinsky||ULB||2015 03||
105. Pegado, F., Comerlato, E., Ventura, F., Jobert, A., Nakamura, K., Buiatti, M., Ventura, P., Dehaene-Lambertz, G., Kolinsky, R., Morais, J., Braga, L. W., Cohen, L., & Dehaene, S. (2014). Timing the impact of literacy on visual processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(49), E5233–E5242. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417347111. Learning to read requires the acquisition of an efficient visual procedure for quickly recognizing fine print. Thus, reading practice could induce a perceptual learning effect in early vision. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in literate and illiterate adults, we previously demonstrated an impact of reading acquisition on both high- and low-level occipitotemporal visual areas, but could not resolve the time course of these effects. To clarify whether literacy affects early vs. late stages of visual processing, we measured event-related potentials to various categories of visual stimuli in healthy adults with variable levels of literacy, including completely illiterate subjects, early-schooled literate subjects, and subjects who learned to read in adulthood (ex-illiterates). The stimuli included written letter strings forming pseudowords, on which literacy is expected to have a major impact, as well as faces, houses, tools, checkerboards, and false fonts. To evaluate the precision with which these stimuli were encoded, we studied repetition effects by presenting the stimuli in pairs composed of repeated, mirrored, or unrelated pictures from the same category. The results indicate that reading ability is correlated with a broad enhancement of early visual processing, including increased repetition suppression, suggesting better exemplar discrimination, and increased mirror discrimination, as early as ∼100–150 ms in the left occipitotemporal region. These effects were found with letter strings and false fonts, but also were partially generalized to other visual categories. Thus, learning to read affects the magnitude, precision, and invariance of early visual processing.