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Sophia Vinci-Booher, Neha Sehgal, Karin James; Visual and Motor Experiences of Handwriting Independently Contribute to Gains in Visual Recognition. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1166. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1166.
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Handwriting, as a learning method, has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing letter recognition, yet we do not know why handwriting has this effect. We hypothesized that the coordination between the motor and visual experiences that is inherent to the act of producing a letter by hand contributes to the development of dynamic representations for letters, representations of the letter unfolding, that play a role in letter recognition. One hundred college-aged participants were taught novel symbols in particular stroke orders. Training occurred within-participants and included writing with ink, writing without ink, watching an experimenter write with ink, and watching an experimenter write without ink. Participants were then shown the learned symbols as well as unlearned symbols unfolding, stroke-by-stroke, in both learned and unlearned stroke orders, and asked to perform a recognition judgment. We predicted that recognition would be most efficient for symbols presented in the learned stroke order and, further, that writing with ink would result in the most efficient recognition. We found that participants more readily recognized symbols when presented in learned stroke orders, but found that the visual experiences and motor experiences that occurred through handwriting contributed independently to the formation of these dynamic representations. Our results indicate that one way that handwriting increases letter recognition is through the formation of dynamic representations for letters and, surprisingly, that these dynamic representations can be established by experiencing the motor action without the visual percept, and vice versa. Handwritings' effectiveness may, therefore, reside in the fact that handwriting provides both motor and visual experiences, each of which would be effective on their own.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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