Expertise with characters in alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems engage overlapping occipito-temporal areas

Alan C.-N. Wong, Gael Jobard, Karin H. James, Thomas W. James, Isabel Gauthier
Cognitive Neuropsychology. 2009-02-01; 26(1): 111-127
DOI: 10.1080/02643290802340972

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1. Cogn Neuropsychol. 2009 Feb;26(1):111-27. doi: 10.1080/02643290802340972.

Expertise with characters in alphabetic and nonalphabetic writing systems engage
overlapping occipito-temporal areas.

Wong AC(1), Jobard G, James KH, James TW, Gauthier I.

Author information:
(1)The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong.

Parts of the left ventral visual pathway are engaged selectively during the
perception of words, letter strings, and even single letters. While studies have
shown overlap between activations for letters and characters across writing
systems, they adopted group analyses with very limited spatial resolution, or
used words and letter strings that have been shown to activate different regions
from those activated by single characters. The current study compared activity
within individual participants for the perception of single characters from
different writing systems. Roman letters, Chinese characters, objects, and faces
were presented to Chinese-English bilinguals and English readers with no Chinese
reading experience. Individual subject analyses revealed a large overlap between
Roman- and Chinese-selective areas in the bilinguals. In general, the activity in
the Roman-selective area of the left hemisphere is associated with experience
with the script, as non-Chinese readers showed lower activations to Chinese
characters than to Roman letters. Further analyses found considerable variation
within non-Chinese readers in the activation for Chinese characters: while the
majority had no selectivity for Chinese characters at all, some showed
activations for Chinese characters at locations similar to those selective for
Roman letters. The results suggest that both stimulus properties and experience
are important factors in determining the response to single characters across
writing systems.

DOI: 10.1080/02643290802340972
PMID: 18759193 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus