Recent visual neuroscience investigations suggest that ventral occipito-temporal cortex is retinotopically organized, with high acuity foveal input projecting primarily to the posterior fusiform gyrus (pFG), making this region crucial for coding high spatial frequency information. Because high spatial frequencies are critical for fine-grained visual discrimination, we hypothesized that damage to the left pFG should have an adverse effect not only on efficient reading, as observed in pure alexia, but also on the processing of complex non-orthographic visual stimuli. Consistent with this hypothesis, we obtained evidence that a large case series (n = 20) of patients with lesions centered on left pFG: 1) Exhibited reduced sensitivity to high spatial frequencies; 2) demonstrated prolonged response latencies both in reading (pure alexia) and object naming; and 3) were especially sensitive to visual complexity and similarity when discriminating between novel visual patterns. These results suggest that the patients' dual reading and non-orthographic recognition impairments have a common underlying mechanism and reflect the loss of high spatial frequency visual information normally coded in the left pFG. © 2012 The Author.