Data for: "Music Literacy shapes the Specialization of a Right-hemispheric Word Reading area, beyond VWFA"

Published: 14 May 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/zmh93bf8g6.1


This study investigates the neural mechanisms underlying word reading in professional musicians compared to musically naïve individuals (control group), focusing on the N170 component of ERPs dedicated to orthographic processing. The application of standardized weighted low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (swLORETA) to individual data contributes to the innovative nature of this project. The results showed that musicians showed a bilateral activation of the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA, BA37) in contrast to controls who showed a clearly left lateralized activation of the middle occipital gyrus (MOG, BA19). Musicians also showed enhanced reading skills compared to controls. It is thought that musicians develop this extra reading region to read the spatial and holistic aspects of musical notation. ERPs were recorded in 80 participants (men and women, musicians and non-musicians). The study involved the visual presentation of 300 Italian words of different length and complexity, presented randomly on a computer screen, as described in detail in the study by Proverbio et al. (2013). The words, written in upper case, ranged from 4 to 10 letters. A recognition task was performed in which participants had to press a key when they saw a specific target letter within a word, depending on the experimental condition, while ignoring non-target letters. Words lasted 1,600 ms, and the interstimulus interval (ISI) was randomly varied between 1,000 and 1,200 ms. ERPs were averaged from -100 to 1200 ms. The N170 component was quantified between 150-190 ms. swLORETA was applied to N170 responses during word reading in both groups. The full list of dipoles and neuroimaging data is presented here. The data are a compendium to the paper "Music Literacy shapes the Specialization of a Right-hemispheric Word Reading area" and include raw data collected from 2013 to 2023 at the Cognitive Lab ERP of UNIMIB for the "Neuroscience of Music" project. Related papers: Pantaleo MM, Arcuri G, Manfredi M, Proverbio AM. Music literacy improves reading skills via bilateral orthographic development. Sci Rep. 2024 Feb 12;14(1):3506. Proverbio AM, Manfredi M, Zani A, Adorni R. Musical expertise affects neural bases of letter recognition. Neuropsychologia. 2013 Feb;51(3):538-49.

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University of Milano-Bicocca


Department of Psychology


Cognitive Neuroscience


Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca

Grant n. 11324-2014-ATE-0030 – "Neuroscience of music", P.I. Alice M. Proverbio