Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24825786
Cereb. Cortex 2015 Sep;25(9):2478-93
Two areas of the occipitotemporal cortex show a remarkable hemispheric lateralization: written words activate the visual word form area (VWFA) in the left fusiform gyrus and faces activate a symmetrical site in the right hemisphere, the fusiform face area (FFA). While the lateralization of the VWFA fits with the leftward asymmetry of the speech processing network, origin of the rightward asymmetry for faces is still unclear. Using fMRI data from 64 subjects (including 16 monozygotic (MZ) and 13 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs), we investigated how activations evoked by written words, faces, and spoken language are co-lateralized in the temporal lobe, and whether this organization reflects genetic factors or individual reading expertise. We found that the lateralization of the left superior temporal activation for spoken language correlates with the lateralization of occipitotemporal activations for both written words and faces. Behavioral reading scores also modulate the responses to words and faces. Estimation of genetic and environmental contributions shows that activations of the VWFA, the occipital face area, and the temporal speech areas are partially under genetic control whereas activation of the FFA is primarily influenced by individual experience. Our results stress the importance of both genetic factors and acquired expertise in the occipitotemporal organization.