Neural mechanisms underlying preview benefits modulated by cultural experience of reading direction

Reading directions vary across writing systems. Through long-term experience readers adjust their visual systems to the dominant reading direction in their writing systems. However, little is known about the neural correlates underlying these adjustments because different writing systems do not just differ in reading direction, but also regarding visual and linguistic properties. Here, we took advantage that Chinese is read to different degrees in left-right or top-down directions in different regions. We investigated visual word processing in participants from Taiwan (both top-down and left-right directions) and from mainland China (only left-right direction). Combined EEG/eye tracking was used together with a saccade-contingent parafoveal preview manipulation to investigate neural correlates, while participants read 5-word lists. Fixation-related potentials (FRPs) showed a reduced late N1 effect (preview positivity), but this effect was modulated by the prior experience with a specific reading direction. Results replicate previous findings that valid previews facilitate visual word processing, as indicated by reduced FRP activation. Critically, the results indicate that this facilitation effect depends on experience with a given reading direction, suggesting a specific mechanism how cultural experience shapes the way people process visual information.

Project Author(s)

Xin Huang; Ng Tin Yan; Chien Ho Lin; Ming Yan; Olaf Dimigen; Werner Sommer; Urs Maurer

This post was automatically generated by Xin Huang

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