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Brain Lang. 1989 May;36(4):669-89.

Lateralization in the visual perception of Chinese characters and words.

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Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Republic of China.


It has been reported that tachistoscopic perception of single Chinese characters is better with a left-visual-field (LVF) than with a right-visual-field (RVF) presentation and that of Chinese words consisting of characters is better with a RVF presentation (O. J. L. Tzeng, D. L. Hung, B. Cotton, & S.-Y. Wang, 1979, Nature (London), 382, 499-501). In this study, the nature of this character-word difference in lateralization was explored in a task in which stimuli were presented unilaterally to a visual field for recognition test. Four types of stimuli were used: Single character, single pseudo- or noncharacter, two-character word, and two-character pseudoword. Results show (a) no visual-field advantage for illegal characters and words, (b) a LVF-advantage effect for characters associated with a more prominent LVF than RVF character-superiority effect, (c) a RVF-advantage effect for words associated with a more prominent RVF than LVF word-superiority effect, and (d) these two visual-field effects for characters and words being not absolute, they occur only with a low rather than with a high recognition for their respective illegal counterparts. These results suggest that the character-word difference is due to a more efficient lexical interpretation of character stimuli in the right than in the left hemisphere and a more efficient lexical interpretation of word stimuli in the left than in the right hemisphere.

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