The nature of abstract orthographic codes

Evidence from masked priming and magnetoencephalography

Liina Pylkkanen, Kana Okano

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    ? Research on letter perception has mainly focussed on the visual properties of letters, showing that orthographic representations are abstract and size/shape invariant. But given that letters are, by definition, mappings between symbols and sounds, what is the role of sound in orthographic representation? We present two experiments suggesting that letters are fundamentally sound-based representations. To examine the role of sound in orthographic representation, we took advantage of the multiple scripts of Japanese. We show two types of evidence that if a Japanese word is presented in a script it never appears in, this presentation immediately activates the ("actual") visual word form of that lexical item. First, equal amounts of masked repetition priming are observed for full repetition and when the prime appears in an atypical script. Second, visual word form frequency affects neuromagnetic measures already at 100-130 ms whether the word is presented in its conventional script or in a script it never otherwise appears in. This suggests that Japanese orthographic codes are not only shape-invariant, but also script invariant. The finding that two characters belonging to different writing systems can activate the same form representation suggests that sound identity is what determines orthographic identity: as long as two symbols express the same sound, our minds represent them as part of the same character/letter.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere10793
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume5
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2010

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    Magnetoencephalography
    Acoustic waves
    Repetition Priming
    magnetoencephalography
    Research

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Medicine(all)

    Cite this

    The nature of abstract orthographic codes : Evidence from masked priming and magnetoencephalography. / Pylkkanen, Liina; Okano, Kana.

    In: PLoS One, Vol. 5, No. 5, e10793, 2010.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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