Eye-movement evidence for the mental representation of strokes in Chinese characters

Lili Yu, Jianping Xiong, Qiaoming Zhang, Denis Drieghe, Erik D. Reichle

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Abstract

Although strokes are the smallest identifiable units in Chinese words, the fact that they are often embedded within larger units (i.e., radicals and/or characters that comprise Chinese words) raises questions about how and even if strokes are separately represented in lexical memory. The present experiment examined these questions using a gaze-contingent boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) to manipulate the parafoveal preview of the first of two-character target words. Relative to a normal preview, the removal of whole strokes was more disruptive (i.e., resulting in longer looking times on targets) than the removal of an equivalent amount of visual information (i.e., number of pixels) from strokes located either in similar locations or throughout the entire character. These findings suggest that strokes are represented as discrete functional units rather than visual features or integral parts of the radicals/characters in which they are embedded. We discuss the theoretical implications of this conclusion for models of Chinese word identification.

LanguageEnglish
Pages544-551
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume45
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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title = "Eye-movement evidence for the mental representation of strokes in Chinese characters",
abstract = "Although strokes are the smallest identifiable units in Chinese words, the fact that they are often embedded within larger units (i.e., radicals and/or characters that comprise Chinese words) raises questions about how and even if strokes are separately represented in lexical memory. The present experiment examined these questions using a gaze-contingent boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) to manipulate the parafoveal preview of the first of two-character target words. Relative to a normal preview, the removal of whole strokes was more disruptive (i.e., resulting in longer looking times on targets) than the removal of an equivalent amount of visual information (i.e., number of pixels) from strokes located either in similar locations or throughout the entire character. These findings suggest that strokes are represented as discrete functional units rather than visual features or integral parts of the radicals/characters in which they are embedded. We discuss the theoretical implications of this conclusion for models of Chinese word identification.",
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Eye-movement evidence for the mental representation of strokes in Chinese characters. / Yu, Lili; Xiong, Jianping; Zhang, Qiaoming; Drieghe, Denis; Reichle, Erik D.

In: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Vol. 45, No. 3, 03.2019, p. 544-551.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Reichle,Erik D.

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AB - Although strokes are the smallest identifiable units in Chinese words, the fact that they are often embedded within larger units (i.e., radicals and/or characters that comprise Chinese words) raises questions about how and even if strokes are separately represented in lexical memory. The present experiment examined these questions using a gaze-contingent boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) to manipulate the parafoveal preview of the first of two-character target words. Relative to a normal preview, the removal of whole strokes was more disruptive (i.e., resulting in longer looking times on targets) than the removal of an equivalent amount of visual information (i.e., number of pixels) from strokes located either in similar locations or throughout the entire character. These findings suggest that strokes are represented as discrete functional units rather than visual features or integral parts of the radicals/characters in which they are embedded. We discuss the theoretical implications of this conclusion for models of Chinese word identification.

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