N170 reflects visual familiarity and automatic sublexical phonological access in L2 written word processing

Yen Na Cherry YUM, Sam-Po LAW

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

The literature has mixed reports on whether the N170, an early visual ERP response to words, signifies orthographic and/or phonological processing, and whether these effects are moderated by script and language expertise. In this study, native Chinese readers, Japanese–Chinese, and Korean–Chinese bilingual readers performed a one-back repetition detection task with single Chinese characters that differed in phonological regularity status. Results using linear mixed effects models showed that Korean–Chinese readers had bilateral N170 response, while native Chinese and Japanese–Chinese groups had left-lateralized N170, with stronger left lateralization in native Chinese than Japanese–Chinese readers. Additionally, across groups, irregular characters had bilateral increase in N170 amplitudes compared to regular characters. These results suggested that visual familiarity to a script rather than orthography-phonology mapping determined the left lateralization of the N170 response, while there was automatic access to sublexical phonology in the N170 time window in native and non-native readers alike. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-680
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date04 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Citation

Yum, Y. N., & Law, S.-P. (2021). N170 reflects visual familiarity and automatic sublexical phonological access in L2 written word processing. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 24(4), 670–680. doi: 10.1017/S1366728920000759

Keywords

  • N170
  • Second language
  • Phonological regularity
  • Visual familiarity
  • Visual word processing

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