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Terri Ng, Vince Ngan, Yetta Wong, Alan Wong; Individual differences in sensitivity to configural information predicts word recognition fluency. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):908. doi: 10.1167/15.12.908.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Many theories and research findings have suggested that words are processed in a less holistic manner compared with faces, although most people have acquired a high level of perceptual expertise with both categories (e.g., Farah, 1998). Our recent studies using the composite paradigm have shown that words are also processed holistically, in that observers find it difficult to attend only to parts of a word while ignoring other parts (Wong et al., 2011, 2012; Chen et al., 2013). Here we further asked whether expert perception of words is associated with sensitivity to the configural information within a word, i.e., the spatial relationships between parts of a word. Fluent English readers with different degrees of fluency in Chinese reading performed a same/different matching of two upright or inverted words presented side by side. While same trials involved two identical images of the same Chinese character or English word, different trials involved the same character or word with different distances between parts, i.e., configuration differences. Participants in general showed an inversion effect, with faster responses in upright than inverted trials for both Chinese and English words. Importantly, individuals with more fluent Chinese character recognition showed a larger inversion effect for Chinese characters. Results indicated that perceptual expertise with words, similar to that with faces, is associated with processing of configural information. This calls for revision of existing theoretical frameworks that feature face and word perception as the most holistic and part-based examples of object perception respectively. Future research will need to investigate potential overlapping mechanisms underlying holistic and configural processing in words and faces.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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