Differential brain mechanisms during reading human vs. machine translated fiction and news texts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

Research units

  • National Taiwan University
  • University of Toronto
  • National Yang-Ming University

Abstract

Few neuroimaigng studies on reading comprehension have been conducted under natural reading settings. In this study, we showed texts presented in a natural way during functional MRI (fMRI) measurements to reveal brain areas sensitive to reading comprehension. Specifically, this paradigm independently manipulated two holistic features of article style: text genre and translation style, a qualitative index of how typical word choices and arrangements are made in daily use of the language. Specifically, articles from The New York Times (news) and Reader's Digest (fiction) translated from English to Mandarin Chinese either by human experts or machine (Google Translate) were used to investigate the correlation of brain activity across participants during article reading. We found that bi-hemispheric visual cortex, precuneus, and occipito-parietal junction show significantly correlated hemodynamics across participants regardless of translation style and article genre. Compared to machine translation, reading human expert translation elicited more reliable fMRI signals across participants at precuneus, potentially because narrative representations and contents can be coherently presented over tens of seconds. We also found significantly stronger inter-subject correlated fMRI signals at temporal poles and fusiform gyri in fiction reading than in news reading. This may be attributed to more stable empathy processing across participants in fiction reading. The degree of stability of brain responses across subjects at extra-linguistic areas was found correlated with subjective rating on the text fluency. The functional connectivity between these areas was modulated by text genre and translation style. Taken together, our imaging results suggested stable and selective neural substrates associated with comprehending holistic features of written narratives.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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