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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    9 Downloads (Pure)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)544-551
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
    Issue number3
    Early online date9 Jul 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


    • Chinese reading
    • strokes
    • Chinese characters
    • eye movements


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