Inhibitory stroke neighbour priming in character recognition and reading in Chinese

Wang, Jingxin, Tian, Jing, Han, Weijin, Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 and Paterson, Kevin B. (2014) Inhibitory stroke neighbour priming in character recognition and reading in Chinese. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67 (11). pp. 2149-2171. ISSN 1747-0218

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In alphabetic languages, prior exposure to a target word's orthographic neighbour influences word recognition in masked priming experiments and the process of word identification that occurs during normal reading. We investigated whether similar neighbour priming effects are observed in Chinese in 4 masked priming experiments (employing a forward mask and 33-ms, 50-ms, and 67-ms prime durations) and in an experiment that measured eye movements while reading. In these experiments, the stroke neighbour of a Chinese character was defined as any character that differed by the addition, deletion, or substitution of one or two strokes. Prime characters were either stroke neighbours or stroke non-neighbours of the target character, and each prime character had either a higher or a lower frequency of occurrence in the language than its corresponding target character. Frequency effects were observed in all experiments, demonstrating that the manipulation of character frequency was successful. In addition, a robust inhibitory priming effect was observed in response times for target characters in the masked priming experiments and in eye fixation durations for target characters in the reading experiment. This stroke neighbour priming was not modulated by the relative frequency of the prime and target characters. The present findings therefore provide a novel demonstration that inhibitory neighbour priming shown previously for alphabetic languages is also observed for nonalphabetic languages, and that neighbour priming (based on stroke overlap) occurs at the level of the character in Chinese.

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