Early print-tuned ERP response with minimal involvement of linguistic processing in Japanese Hiragana strings

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The act of reading leads to the development of specific neural responses for print, the most frequently reported of which is the left occipitotemporal N170 component of event-related potentials. However, it remains unclear whether this electrophysiological response solely involves print-tuned neural activities. The present study examined an early print-tuned event-related potential response with minimal involvement of linguistic processing in a nonalphabetic language. Japanese Hiragana words, nonwords, and alphanumeric symbol strings were presented rapidly and the task was to detect the change in color of a fixation cross to restrict linguistic processing. As a result, Hiragana words and nonwords elicited a larger posterior N1 than alphanumeric symbol strings bilaterally, irrespective of intercharacter spacing. The fact that this N1 was enhanced specifically for rapidly presented Hiragana strings suggests the existence of print-tuned neural processes that are relatively independent of the influence of linguistic processing.

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