Some neighbors are more interfering: asymmetric priming by stroke neighbors in Chinese character recognition

Lili Yu*, Qiaoming Zhang, Meiling Ke, Yifei Han, Sachiko Kinoshita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Chinese is a visually complex logographic script that consists of square-shaped characters, with each character composed of strokes. Previous masked priming studies using single-character Chinese stroke neighbors (i.e., visually similar characters differing in only one or two strokes, e.g., 大/犬) have shown facilitatory or inhibitory priming effects. We tested whether the mixed pattern of stroke neighbor priming might be an instance of asymmetry in priming that has been observed previously with Japanese kana and Latin alphabets. Specifically, a prime lacking a stroke (or line segment) that is present in the target speeds up the recognition of its stroke neighbor almost as much as the identity prime (e.g., 刀-刃 = 刃-刃), but not the converse (e.g., 刃-刀 >> 刀-刀). Two experiments, one using a character match task and the second using lexical decision, showed a robust asymmetry in priming by stroke neighbors. The results suggest that the early letter identification process is similar across script types, as anticipated by the Noisy Channel model, which regards the first stage of visual word recognition as a language-universal perceptual process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065–1073
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Chinese reading
  • stroke neighbors
  • masked priming
  • character frequency


Dive into the research topics of 'Some neighbors are more interfering: asymmetric priming by stroke neighbors in Chinese character recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this