This is your brain on Scrabble: Neural correlates of visual word recognition in competitive Scrabble players as measured during task and resting-state
OPEN Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior | 1 Jun 2015
AB Protzner, IS Hargreaves, JA Campbell, K Myers-Stewart, S van Hees, BG Goodyear, P Sargious and PM Pexman
Competitive Scrabble players devote considerable time to studying words and practicing Scrabble-related skills (e.g., anagramming). This training is associated with extraordinary performance in lexical decision, the standard visual word recognition task (Hargreaves, Pexman, Zdrazilova & Sargious, 2012). In the present study we investigated the neural consequences of this lexical expertise. Using both event-related and resting-state fMRI, we compared brain activity and connectivity in 12 competitive Scrabble experts with 12 matched non-expert controls. Results showed that when engaged in the lexical decision task (LDT), Scrabble experts made use of brain regions not generally associated with meaning retrieval in visual word recognition, but rather those associated with working memory and visual perception. The analysis of resting-state data also showed group differences, such that a different network of brain regions was associated with higher levels of Scrabble-related skill in experts than in controls.
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