Neural specialization for print in Chinese-English language learners

Xiuhong TONG, Urs MAURER, Kevin Kien Hoa CHUNG, Catherine Alexandra MCBRIDE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Visual specialization for print is an essential structural element of fluent reading. Previous research suggests that lateralization of N1 print tuning may depend on both the writing system and the skill level. Here, we tested which of these effects was more prominent in beginning readers of Chinese (L1) and English (L2). Using an ERP measure with an implicit one-back repetition detection task, we investigated the neural basis of visual specialization for print in Chinese and English among eleven 7-to-8-year-old Hong Kong children, who were learning to read Chinese and English in parallel, though showing lower skills in English. N1 print tuning was found for both Chinese and English words, but was bilateral for Chinese and right-lateralized for English. In addition, the specialization effect of print started as early as in the time window of the P1, with a reduced P1 for Chinese and English words as compared to the visually matched control stimuli. These findings suggest that Chinese readers in 2nd grade show clear visual specialization for both Chinese and English print and that right-lateralized N1 specialization may be driven by less reading experience in English rather than by writing-specific effects induced by Chinese. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-55
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Early online dateNov 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


Tong, X., Maurer, U., Chung, K. K. H., & McBride, C. (2016). Neural specialization for print in Chinese-English language learners. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 38, 42-55.


  • Print specialization
  • N1
  • Children
  • Second language learners


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