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fMRI Correlates of the Word Frequency Effect in Russian

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: The results of the previous fMRI study of the word frequency effect in Russian (Malutina et al., 2012) contradict the results obtained from fMRI studies of English speakers. Two reasons for such inconsistency may be either task specificity (tasks involving verbs vs. tasks involving nouns) or cross-linguistic differences. This study examines fMRI correlates of word frequency in Russian using an object naming task. We found that several brain regions were more activated by the retrieval of low frequency rather than high frequency words: the fusiform gyrus, the inferior occipital gyrus, the middle occipital gyrus, the supplementary motor area, the inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally, the left thalamus, the left insula, and the right cingulate gyrus. At the same time we revealed no brain areas responding more to high frequency words. These results are consistent with the previous fMRI studies in English and also indicate the possible role of task specificity as well as possible interactions of task and word frequency in brain mechanisms for word retrieval.

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