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Ricky Van Yip Tso, Terry Kit-fong Au, Janet Hui-wen Hsiao; Writing facilitates learning to read in Chinese through reduction of holistic processing: A developmental study. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):530. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.530.
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Holistic processing has been identified as an expertise marker of face and object recognition. In contrast, the expertise marker of recognizing Chinese characters is reduced holistic processing (Hsiao & Cottrell, 2009). We have recently shown that this reduction in holistic processing is driven by Chinese writing experiences rather than reading ability (Tso, Au, & Hsiao, 2011): Chinese literates who had limited writing exposure and thus had reading performance far exceeding their writing ability perceived Chinese characters more holistically than Chinese literates who can read and write fluently, with reading performance controlled statistically in the comparison. Here we investigate the developmental trend of holistic processing in Chinese character recognition and its relationship to reading and writing abilities. As reduced holistic processing is achieved through writing experiences, we hypothesize that reduced holistic processing mediates between writing and reading abilities. We tested first, third, and fifth grade Chinese children who were learning Chinese at a public elementary school in Hong Kong that emphasized both word reading and writing abilities. We tested these kinds of abilities as well as holistic processing of Chinese character recognition using the complete composite paradigm (Gauthier & Bukach, 2007). We found that Children perceived Chinese characters more holistically than adults in our prior studies (Tso et al., 2011). This holistic processing effect was reduced as they reached higher grades. Hierarchical regression analyses showed that this reduction in holistic processing effect was driven by enhanced Chinese literacy (i.e. reading and writing accuracy) rather than age, consistent with Hsiao and Cottrell’s (2009) finding. In addition, through mediation analysis, we found that writing performance predicts reading performance through reduced holistic processing as a mediator, consistent with our hypothesis. We thus argue that writing hones analytic processing, which is essential for Chinese character recognition, and in turn facilitates learning to read in Chinese.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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