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Neural correlates of foveal splitting in reading: Evidence from an ERP study of Chinese character recognition

  • Author(s): Hsiao, Janet Hui-wen;
  • Shillcock, Richard;
  • Lee, Chia-ying
  • et al.

Recent research on foveal structure and reading suggests that the two halves of a centrally fixated word seem to be initially projected to, and processed in, different hemispheres. In the current study, we utilize two contrasting structures in Chinese orthography, "SP" (the semantic radical on the left and the phonetic radical on the right) and "PS" characters (the opposite structure), to examine foveal splitting effects in event-related potential (ERP) recordings. We showed that when participants silently named centrally presented characters, there was a significant interaction between character type and hemisphere in NI amplitude: SP characters elicited larger NI compared with PS characters in the left hemisphere, whereas the right hemisphere had the opposite pattern. This effect is consistent with the split fovea claim, suggesting that the two halves of a character may be initially projected to and processed in different hemispheres. There was no such interaction observed in an earlier component PI. Also, there was an interaction between character type and sex of the reader in N350 amplitude. This result is consistent with Hsiao and Shillcock's [Hsiao, J. H., & Shillcock, R. (2005b). Foveal splitting causes differential processing of Chinese orthography in the male and female brain. Cognitive Brain Research, 25, 531-536] behavioural study, which showed a similar interaction in naming response time. They argued that this effect was due to a more left-lateralized network for phonological processing in the male brain compared with the female brain. The results hence showed that foveal splitting effects in visual word recognition were observed in N 1 the earliest, and could extend far enough to interact with the sex of the reader as revealed in N350. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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