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Yi-Min Tien, Horng-Yih Lee, Jing-Yi Tsai, Li-Chuan Hsu; The inversion effect of Chinese character. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):148. doi: 10.1167/8.6.148.
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Do we recognize characters by parts, or as a whole? It is of interest for visual word recognition of non-alphabetic scripts such as Chinese. We probe this question by applying the inversion effect (IE). IE of face recognition refers to the finding that the inversion of faces results in a more serious decrement of performance than natural objects (Yin, 1969). Researchers suggest that the IE of face provides the evidence for the holistic encoding of faces (e.g. Diamond & Carey, 1986; Tanaka & Farah, 1993). Current studies examine whether recognition of Chinese Characters also show IE, and hence, the holistic processes. Four types of stimuli including high- and low-frequency real characters (RCh), pseudo-characters (PsCh), and non-characters (NCh) were used as materials. Stimuli were presented both upright and upside down in a lexical decision task. Results show IE in RCh but not PsCh and NCh. Separated analysis for RCh revealed frequency by inversion interaction indicating that subjects showed larger IE when process LF characters than process HF characters. We conclude IE was clearly elicited while processing Chinese characters, but the overall patterns do not resemble to the familiarity effect of inverted face. Holistic processing may not the only factor to determine the patterns in character processing. The roles of decomposition, familiarity, and mental rotation were discussed.
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