CHANGE IN SUBTLE N170 SPECIALIZATION IN RESPONSE TO CHINESE CHARACTERS AND PSEUDOCHARACTERS1,2


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Abstract

Summary.The N170 effect is thought to reflect fast perceptual processing for visual words. While quite a few studies on developmental word-related coarse N170 specialization have been reported, little is known about the appearance of the subtle N170 specialization in processing logographic scripts by Chinese children. The present study investigated the changes of subtle N170 specialization for Chinese logographic script in 32 primary schoolchildren in Grades 2 and 6, and in 16 college students. Participants were required to perform a content-irrelevant color-matching task. The results showed that the subtle N170 specialization for Chinese characters had not emerged in Grade 2 children. Interestingly, both Chinese characters and pseudowords elicited larger N170 responses than stroke combinations in Grade 6 children and adults, which suggested that the subtle N170 specialization for Chinese characters associated with reading learning had achieved adult level in children by Grade 6.

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