The Contributions of Segmental and Suprasegmental Information in Reading Chinese Characters Aloud.
ABSTRACT: The Chinese writing system provides an excellent case for testing the contribution of segmental and suprasegmental information in reading words aloud within the same language. In logographic Chinese characters, neither segmental nor tonal information is explicitly represented, whereas in Pinyin, an alphabetic transcription of the character, both are explicitly represented. Two primed naming experiments were conducted in which the targets were always written characters. When logographic characters served as the primes (Experiment 1), syllable segmental and tonal information appeared to be represented and encoded as an integral unit which in turn facilitated target character naming. When Pinyin served as the primes (Experiment 2), the explicit phonetic representation facilitated encoding of both segmental and suprasegmental information, but with later access to suprasegmental information. In addition, Chinese speakers were faster to name characters than Pinyin in a simple naming task (Experiment 3), suggesting that Pinyin may be read via a phonological assembly route, whereas characters may be read via a lexical route. Taken together, our findings point to the need to consider the contributions of both segmental and suprasegmental information and the time course in the well-established models for reading aloud, as well as the cognitive mechanisms underlying the reading aloud of logographic characters versus alphabetic Pinyin script.
Project description:Most models of reading aloud have been constructed to explain data in relatively complex orthographies like English and French. Here, we created an Italian version of the Connectionist Dual Process Model of Reading Aloud (CDP++) to examine the extent to which the model could predict data in a language which has relatively simple orthography-phonology relationships but is relatively complex at a suprasegmental (word stress) level. We show that the model exhibits good quantitative performance and accounts for key phenomena observed in naming studies, including some apparently contradictory findings. These effects include stress regularity and stress consistency, both of which have been especially important in studies of word recognition and reading aloud in Italian. Overall, the results of the model compare favourably to an alternative connectionist model that can learn non-linear spelling-to-sound mappings. This suggests that CDP++ is currently the leading computational model of reading aloud in Italian, and that its simple linear learning mechanism adequately captures the statistical regularities of the spelling-to-sound mapping both at the segmental and supra-segmental levels.
Project description:Learning to associate written letters/characters with speech sounds is crucial for reading acquisition. Most previous studies have focused on audiovisual integration in alphabetic languages. Less is known about logographic languages such as Chinese characters, which map onto mostly syllable-based morphemes in the spoken language. Here we investigated how long-term exposure to native language affects the underlying neural mechanisms of audiovisual integration in a logographic language using magnetoencephalography (MEG). MEG sensor and source data from 12 adult native Chinese speakers and a control group of 13 adult Finnish speakers were analyzed for audiovisual suppression (bimodal responses vs. sum of unimodal responses) and congruency (bimodal incongruent responses vs. bimodal congruent responses) effects. The suppressive integration effect was found in the left angular and supramarginal gyri (205-365 ms), left inferior frontal and left temporal cortices (575-800 ms) in the Chinese group. The Finnish group showed a distinct suppression effect only in the right parietal and occipital cortices at a relatively early time window (285-460 ms). The congruency effect was only observed in the Chinese group in left inferior frontal and superior temporal cortex in a late time window (about 500-800 ms) probably related to modulatory feedback from multi-sensory regions and semantic processing. The audiovisual integration in a logographic language showed a clear resemblance to that in alphabetic languages in the left superior temporal cortex, but with activation specific to the logographic stimuli observed in the left inferior frontal cortex. The current MEG study indicated that learning of logographic languages has a large impact on the audiovisual integration of written characters with some distinct features compared to previous results on alphabetic languages.
Project description:In four reading aloud experiments we investigated the operations occurring at the level of the phonological buffer by manipulating stress and phoneme information. In all experiments we adopted a masked priming paradigm with three-syllable Italian word targets. Experiments 1 and 2 tested the effect of pure segmental (e.g., fe%%%% - FEcola) and pure suprasegmental (CInema - FEcola) overlap, respectively. Experiments 3 and 4 tested the joint manipulation of segmental and suprasegmental information, by using prime-target pairs that shared the first syllable and did or did not share their stress pattern (e.g., FEgato - FEcola vs. feNIce - FEcola). The results showed that both segmental and suprasegmental primes affect reading at an abstract phonological level. Moreover, the joint manipulation of stress and phonemes showed an asymmetric pattern for different stress patterns, suggesting that the phonemic and the stress systems address the articulation planning through a process that starts as soon as the relevant information about the to-be-planned unit is active.
Project description:Written Chinese as a logographic system was developed over 3,000 y ago. Historically, Chinese children have learned to read by learning to associate the visuo-graphic properties of Chinese characters with lexical meaning, typically through handwriting. In recent years, however, many Chinese children have learned to use electronic communication devices based on the pinyin input method, which associates phonemes and English letters with characters. When children use pinyin to key in letters, their spelling no longer depends on reproducing the visuo-graphic properties of characters that are indispensable to Chinese reading, and, thus, typing in pinyin may conflict with the traditional learning processes for written Chinese. We therefore tested character reading ability and pinyin use by primary school children in three Chinese cites: Beijing (n = 466), Guangzhou (n = 477), and Jining (n = 4,908). Children with severe reading difficulty are defined as those who were normal in nonverbal IQ but two grades (i.e., 2 y) behind in character-reading achievement. We found that the overall incidence rate of severe reading difficulty appears to be much higher than ever reported on Chinese reading. Crucially, we found that children's reading scores were significantly negatively correlated with their use of the pinyin input method, suggesting that pinyin typing on e-devices hinders Chinese reading development. The Chinese language has survived the technological challenges of the digital era, but the benefits of communicating digitally may come with a cost in proficient learning of written Chinese.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In alphabetic languages, emerging evidence from behavioral and neuroimaging studies shows the rapid and automatic activation of phonological information in visual word recognition. In the mapping from orthography to phonology, unlike most alphabetic languages in which there is a natural correspondence between the visual and phonological forms, in logographic Chinese, the mapping between visual and phonological forms is rather arbitrary and depends on learning and experience. The issue of whether the phonological information is rapidly and automatically extracted in Chinese characters by the brain has not yet been thoroughly addressed.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We continuously presented Chinese characters differing in orthography and meaning to adult native Mandarin Chinese speakers to construct a constant varying visual stream. In the stream, most stimuli were homophones of Chinese characters: The phonological features embedded in these visual characters were the same, including consonants, vowels and the lexical tone. Occasionally, the rule of phonology was randomly violated by characters whose phonological features differed in the lexical tone.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>We showed that the violation of the lexical tone phonology evoked an early, robust visual response, as revealed by whole-head electrical recordings of the visual mismatch negativity (vMMN), indicating the rapid extraction of phonological information embedded in Chinese characters. Source analysis revealed that the vMMN was involved in neural activations of the visual cortex, suggesting that the visual sensory memory is sensitive to phonological information embedded in visual words at an early processing stage.
Project description:Reading disorders (RD) are common and complex neuropsychological conditions associated with decoding printed words and/or reading comprehension. Early identification of children at risk of RD is critical to allow timely interventions before mental suffering and reading impairment take place. Chinese is a unique medium for studying RD because of extra efforts required in reading acquisition of characters based on meaning rather than phonology. Pinyin, an alphabetic coding system mapping Mandarin sounds to characters, is important to develop oral language skills and a promising candidate for early screening for RD. In this pilot study, we used a cohort of 100 students (50 each in Grades 1 and 2) to derive novel profiles of applying Pinyin to identify early schoolers at risk of RD. Each student had comprehensive reading related measures in two consecutive years, including Pinyin reading and reading comprehension tested in the first and second year, respectively. We showed that Pinyin reading was mainly determined by phonological awareness, was well developed in Grade 1 and the top predictor of reading comprehension (explaining ?30% of variance, p < 1.0e-05). Further, students who performed poorly in Pinyin reading [e.g. 1 standard deviation (SD) below the average, counting 14% in Grade 1 and 10% in Grade 2], tended to perform poorly in future reading comprehension tests, including all four individuals in Grade 1 (two out of three in Grade 2) who scored 1.5 SDs below the average. Pinyin is therefore an effective proxy for early screening for Mandarin-speaking children at risk of RD.
Project description:Comparisons of word and picture processing using event-related potentials (ERPs) are contaminated by gross physical differences between the two types of stimuli. In the present study, we tackle this problem by comparing picture processing with word processing in an alphabetic and a logographic script, that are also characterized by gross physical differences. Native Mandarin Chinese speakers viewed pictures (line drawings) and Chinese characters (Experiment 1), native English speakers viewed pictures and English words (Experiment 2), and naïve Chinese readers (native English speakers) viewed pictures and Chinese characters (Experiment 3) in a semantic categorization task. The varying pattern of differences in the ERPs elicited by pictures and words across the three experiments provided evidence for (i) script-specific processing arising between 150 and 200 ms post-stimulus onset, (ii) domain-specific but script-independent processing arising between 200 and 300 ms post-stimulus onset, and (iii) processing that depended on stimulus meaningfulness in the N400 time window. The results are interpreted in terms of differences in the way visual features are mapped onto higher-level representations for pictures and words in alphabetic and logographic writing systems.
Project description:The laterality difference in the occipitotemporal region between Chinese (bilaterality) and alphabetic languages (left laterality) has been attributed to their difference in visual appearance. However, these languages also differ in orthographic transparency. To disentangle the effect of orthographic transparency from visual appearance, we trained subjects to read the same artificial script either as an alphabetic (i.e., transparent orthography) or a logographic (i.e., nontransparent orthography) language. Consistent with our previous results, both types of phonological training enhanced activations in the left fusiform gyrus. More interestingly, the laterality in the fusiform gyrus (especially the posterior region) was modulated by the orthographic transparency of the artificial script (more left-lateralized activation after alphabetic training than after logographic training). These results provide an alternative account (i.e., orthographic transparency) for the laterality difference between Chinese and alphabetic languages, and may have important implications for the role of the fusiform in reading.
Project description:Writing is an essential tool for human communication and involves multiple linguistic, cognitive, and motor processes. Chinese, a logographic writing system, differs remarkably from the writing systems of alphabetic languages. The neural substrates of Chinese writing are largely unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a copying task, this study probed the neural underpinnings of orthographic access during Mandarin Chinese writing by employing the word-frequency effect. The results showed that writing low-frequency characters evoked greater activation in the bilateral superior/middle/inferior frontal gyrus, superior/inferior parietal lobule, and fusiform gyrus than writing high-frequency characters. Moreover, psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis demonstrated that the word-frequency effect modulated functional connectivity within the frontal-occipital networks and the parietal-occipital networks. Together, these findings illustrate the neural correlates of orthographic access for Mandarin Chinese writing, shedding new light on the cognitive architecture of writing across various writing systems.
Project description:Communications through electronic devices require knowledge in typewriting, typically with the pinyin input method in China. Yet, the over utilization of the pronunciation-based pinyin input method may violate the traditional learning processes of written Chinese, which involves abundant visual orthographic analysis of characters and repeated writing. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the influence of pinyin typing on reading neurodevelopment of intermediate Chinese readers (age 9-11). We found that, relative to less frequent pinyin users, more frequent pinyin users showed an overall weaker pattern of cortical activations in the left middle frontal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, and right fusiform gyrus in performing reading tasks. In addition, more frequent pinyin typists had relatively less gray matter volume in the left middle frontal region, a site known to be crucial for Chinese reading. This study demonstrates that Chinese children's brain development in the information era is affected by the frequent use of the pinyin input method.