Familiarity with visual forms contributes to a left-lateralized and increased N170 response for Chinese characters

Publication date: Available online 19 September 2019Source: NeuropsychologiaAuthor(s): Licheng Xue, Urs Maurer, Xuchu Weng, Jing ZhaoAbstractWhile skilled readers produce an increased and left-lateralized event-related-potential (ERP) component, known as N170, for strings of letters compared to strings of less familiar units, it remains unclear whether perceptual familiarity plays an important role in driving increased and left-lateralized N170 for print. The present study addressed this issue by examining N170 responses for regular Chinese characters and cursive Chinese characters which are visually less familiar regarding their form, yet with phonological and semantic properties. Stroke combinations, which are with unfamiliar visual form and without phonological or semantic properties, were used as low-level control stimuli. Twenty colleague students (22.6 ± 1.2 years) were examined. A content-irrelevant color matching task was used to control for differences of attention load across familiar and unfamiliar stimuli. A left-lateralized N170 was evoked only by regular characters, but not by cursive characters or stroke combinations. Moreover, cursive characters, which are principally readable but visually unfamiliar, produced lower N170 than regular characters, and no N170 difference compared with stroke combinations. These results suggest that visual form familiarity serves as an important driver for increased and left-lateralized N170 response.
Source: Neuropsychologia - Category: Neurology Source Type: research

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