Words and pictures: An electrophysiological investigation of domain specific processing in native Chinese and English speakers

Yen Na Cherry YUM, Phillip J. HOLCOMB, Jonathan GRAINGER

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28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Comparisons of word and picture processing using event-related potentials (ERPs) are contaminated by gross physical differences between the two types of stimuli. In the present study, we tackle this problem by comparing picture processing with word processing in an alphabetic and a logographic script, that are also characterized by gross physical differences. Native Mandarin Chinese speakers viewed pictures (line drawings) and Chinese characters (Experiment 1), native English speakers viewed pictures and English words (Experiment 2), and naïve Chinese readers (native English speakers) viewed pictures and Chinese characters (Experiment 3) in a semantic categorization task. The varying pattern of differences in the ERPs elicited by pictures and words across the three experiments provided evidence for (i) script-specific processing arising between 150 and 200 ms post-stimulus onset, (ii) domain-specific but script-independent processing arising between 200 and 300 ms post-stimulus onset, and (iii) processing that depended on stimulus meaningfulness in the N400 time window. The results are interpreted in terms of differences in the way visual features are mapped onto higher-level representations for pictures and words in alphabetic and logographic writing systems. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1910-1922
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume49
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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Word Processing
Evoked Potentials
Semantics

Citation

Yum, Y. N., Holcomb, P. J., & Grainger, J. (2011). Words and pictures: An electrophysiological investigation of domain specific processing in native Chinese and English speakers. Neuropsychologia, 49(7), 1910-1922. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.03.018

Keywords

  • ERP
  • N170
  • N400
  • Word processing
  • Picture processing
  • Chinese character