Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Non-averaged scalp-recorded brain potentials were analyzed in four right-handed humans while they were either silently reading a book, or in idle alert conditions. The dimensionality of chaotic strange attractors was estimated from the EEG at each of 14 scalp electrodes, using the point correlation dimension PD2 algorithm. When the subject was fully alert but not engaged in any specific task, PD2 was between 5.2 and 5.9. When the subject was silently reading a book, PD2 bifurcated to significantly higher values (6.6-6.9) in the left lateral anterior extrasylvian temporal cortex, but did not change in the adjacent left perisylvian cortex nor over the right side of the brain. The PD2 increases occurred without any significant change in vigilance level as assessed from the unchanged mean voltage of concomitant gamma (40 Hz) EEG oscillations. A small barely significant PD2 increase was only noticed in the left lateral precentral region. The increase of chaotic dimensionality in the left lateral extrasylvian temporal cortex during reading reflects enhanced processing operations in the semantic (Wernicke) areas and is in line with recent PET imaging data. These results provide for the first time evidence of a focal chaotic fractal dimension increase that is related to specific cognitive brain processing operations.