Hemispheric lateralisation of the word length effect in Chinese character recognition

Abstract

In the last decade, researchers of hemispheric superiority have become increasingly interested in the length effect in word recognition in alphabetic languages. But little has been known about ideographic languages like traditional Chinese. The primary aim of this study is to investigate hemispheric laterality and the word length effect in Chinese script recognition. Different-length words consisting of two-, threeand five-characters were presented unilaterally in a lexical decision task. The results, from 23 Taiwanese subjects, supported the wordlength effect showing significantly different recognition latencies for the multi-character words of different length, but no significant hemispheric lateralisation. There was a significant interaction between gender and visual field, with males tending to show a right visual field advantage. Previous studies have demonstrated hemispheric lateralisation effects in recognizing words of different length (Ellis & Young, 1985), concrete and abstract words (e.g., Ellis & Shepherd, 1974 ) and a word/number difference (eg, Besner, Daniels & Slade, 1982). The principle finding of a right visual field (RVF) superiority has been repeatedly reported in physically long English words: increasing word length affects the left visual field (LVF) but not the RVF presentations, resulting in a RVF superiority. The Chinese writing system, the so-called ideogram, is distinctive from the English writing system and is supposed to present more pictorial characteristics, involving an LVF superiority in recognition tasks. Chinese stimuli presented in the LVF are hypothesized to consume shorter time in lexical decision than those presented in RVF, because the right hemisphere, directly connected to LVF, is dominant in processing pictorial images. In 1994, Fang conducted experiments with differentlength Chinese words but failed to find a significant interaction between Visual Field and Word Length. Either a significant Word Length effect or a Visual Field difference was found in separate experiments. This failure to find an interaction between length and visual field is important given the robustness of the effect in English. Below we report a replication of Fang’s experiment, but with an added manipulation of gender, to investigate word recognition in Chinese.

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{ChouHemisphericLO, title={Hemispheric lateralisation of the word length effect in Chinese character recognition}, author={Yu-Ju Chou and Richard Shillcock} }