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Mem Cognit. 1995 Jul;23(4):468-76.

Visual and phonological pathways to the lexicon: evidence from Chinese readers.

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Australian National University, Canberra.


In this study, we investigated the role of visual and phonological information in lexical access of Chinese characters. Homophonic English words have been the main source of stimuli for word recognition research. However, since these stimuli also often look alike, visual and phonological information may be confounded in reported experiments. In contrast, many homophonic Chinese characters are visually distinct. In addition, visually similar characters often have very different pronunciations. These characteristics allow a more controlled investigation of the roles of visual and phonological information in activation of meaning. In the present study, two types of Chinese characters were used in a semantic categorization paradigm: integrated characters, which contain strokes that are not separable; and compound characters, which contain at least two clearly identifiable components. The results show that the recognition of a Chinese integrated character depends primarily on visual information, whereas the recognition of a Chinese compound character relies on visual, phonological, and semantic information. It is concluded that visual information plays a greater role in Chinese character recognition than has previously been documented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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