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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2017, Article ID 2761913, 16 pages
Research Article

The Cognitive Neuroplasticity of Reading Recovery following Chronic Stroke: A Representational Similarity Analysis Approach

1Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
2Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Simon Fischer-Baum; ude.ecir@2fjs

Received 7 June 2016; Accepted 12 December 2016; Published 8 February 2017

Academic Editor: Swathi Kiran

Copyright © 2017 Simon Fischer-Baum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Damage to certain left hemisphere regions leads to reading impairments, at least acutely, though some individuals eventually recover reading. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown a relationship between reading recovery and increases in contralesional and perilesional activation during word reading tasks, relative to controls. Questions remain about how to interpret these changes in activation. Do these changes reflect functional take-over, a reorganization of functions in the damaged brain? Or do they reveal compensatory masquerade or the use of alternative neural pathways to reading that are available in both patients and controls? We address these questions by studying a single individual, CH, who has made a partial recovery of reading familiar words following stroke. We use an fMRI analysis technique, representational similarity analysis (RSA), which allows us to decode cognitive function from distributed patterns of neural activity. Relative to controls, we find that CH shows a shift from visual to orthographic processing in contralesional regions, with a marginally significant result in perilesional regions as well. This pattern supports a contralesional reorganization of orthographic processing following stroke. More generally, these analyses demonstrate how powerful RSA can be for mapping the neural plasticity of language function.