Visual-spatial attention: Its relationships with reading and writing in third grade Chinese children

Duo LIU, Xi CHEN, Kevin Kien Hoa CHUNG, Ying WANG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Purpose: Due to the logographic features of Chinese orthography, visual skills may be important for the literacy development of Chinese children (e.g., Luo et al., 2013; McBride-Chang et al., 2005). However, almost all previous studies examining the role of visual skills in Chinese reading focused on visual perception or visual memory and yielded inconsistent results. To the best of our knowledge, the present study represents the first effort to examine the predictive effects of visual-spatial attention on character reading, reading comprehension, and word writing (dictation) among Chinese children. Method: Ninety-two third-grade native Cantonese-speaking children participated in this study (60 boys and 32 girls, mean age = 9.03, SD = .32). Visual-spatial attention was measured with the visual search task, in which children were asked to circle targets from a matrix composed of both the targets and distracters (e.g., find ↗ from ↙). Both the finish time and errors were recorded. The error/time ratio was used as the indicator of children's visual-spatial attention. In addition to the measures of visual-spatial attention and literacy ability, morphological awareness, phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge, vocabulary, and non-verbal IQ were also measured and used as control variables. Results: Visual-spatial attention explained significant unique variance in all three literacy measures (3.2% variance in Chinese character reading, 13.9% in reading comprehension, and 8.1% in word dictation), even after all the control variables were included in the hierarchical regression analyses. Conclusion: The results suggest that visual-spatial attention plays an important role in the literacy development of Chinese children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


school grade
visual perception


Liu, P. D., Chen, X., Chung, K. K.-H., & Wang, Y. (2014, July). Visual-spatial attention: Its relationships with reading and writing in third grade Chinese children. Paper presented at the Twenty-First Annual Meeting: Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Santa Fe, New Maxico.


  • Word reading
  • Reading comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Attention