COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGYGeneral associative learning shapes the plasticity of the visual word form areaSong, Yiyinga b; Bu, Yonga b; Liu, JiabAuthor Information aDepartment of Biology, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences bState Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China Correspondence to Dr Jia Liu, State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China Tel: +86 10 58806154; fax: +86 10 58805700; e-mail: [email protected] Received 15 November 2009 accepted 3 December 2009 NeuroReport: March 31, 2010 - Volume 21 - Issue 5 - p 333-337 doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328336ee48 Buy Metrics Abstract Earlier studies identify a region in the left fusiform gyrus that responds selectively to visual words, termed the visual word form area (VWFA). Converging evidence suggests that the VWFA is wired up largely by language experience. Here we asked whether general associative experience without explicit language learning accounts for the selectivity of the VWFA. Specifically, we trained individuals to associate novel stimuli with objects. We found that the blood oxygen level-dependent response of the VWFA to the trained stimuli was significantly higher than that of visually similar but untrained stimuli. No learning effects were found in the face-selective and object-selective regions. Our study illuminates that the plasticity of the VWFA can be shaped by associative learning without language experience. © 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.