Neural systems for rapid automatized naming in skilled readers: Unraveling the RAN-reading relationship

Maya Misra, Tamar Katzir, Maryanne Wolf, Russell A. Poldrack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The majority of children and adults with reading disabilities exhibit pronounced difficulties on naming-speed measures such as tests of rapid automatized naming (RAN). RAN tasks require speeded naming of serially presented stimuli and share key characteristics with reading, but different versions of the RAN task vary in their sensitivity: The RAN letters task successfully predicts reading ability, whereas the RAN objects task does not reliably predict reading after kindergarten. In this study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to evaluate the neural substrates that may underlie performance on these tasks. In two scans during the same test session, adult, average readers covertly rapidly named objects or letters or passively viewed a fixation matrix of plus signs. For both rapid naming tasks compared with fixation, activation was found in neural areas associated with eye movement control and attention as well as in a network of structures previously implicated in reading tasks. This reading network included inferior frontal cortex, temporo-parietal areas, and the ventral visual stream. Whereas the inferior frontal areas of the network were similarly activated for both letters and objects, activation in the posterior areas varied by task. The letters task caused greater activation in the angular gyrus, superior parietal lobule, and medial extrastriate areas, whereas object naming only preferentially activated an area of the fusiform gyrus. These results confirm that RAN tasks recruit a network of neural structures also involved in more complex reading tasks and suggest that the RAN letters task specifically pinpoints key components of this network.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe cognitive neuroscience of reading
Subtitle of host publicationA special issue of scientific studies of reading
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780203764442
ISBN (Print)9780805895407
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2004 Taylor and Francis. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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