Long-term experience with Chinese language shapes the fusiform asymmetry of English reading

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Abstract

Previous studies have suggested differential engagement of the bilateral fusiform gyrus in the processing of Chinese and English. The present study tested the possibility that long-term experience with Chinese language affects the fusiform laterality of English reading by comparing three samples: Chinese speakers, English speakers with Chinese experience, and English speakers without Chinese experience. We found that, when reading words in their respective native language, Chinese and English speakers without Chinese experience differed in functional laterality of the posterior fusiform region (right laterality for Chinese speakers, but left laterality for English speakers). More importantly, compared with English speakers without Chinese experience, English speakers with Chinese experience showed more recruitment of the right posterior fusiform cortex for English words and pseudowords, which is similar to how Chinese speakers processed Chinese. These results suggest that long-term experience with Chinese shapes the fusiform laterality of English reading and have important implications for our understanding of the cross-language influences in terms of neural organization and of the functions of different fusiform subregions in reading.

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