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Slide Slam D15

Fast, neural tuning for print in Chinese: ERP data from skilled adults and children with and without dyslexia

Slide Slam Session D, Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 5:30 - 7:30 pm PDT Log In to set Timezone

Urs Maurer1, Wai Leung Wong1, Bingbing Song1, Ka Chun Wu1, Jianhong Mo1, Tin Yan Hezul Ng1, Shuting Huo1, Jie Wang1,2, Fang Wang1,3; 1The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2Education University of Hong Kong, 3Stanford University

Studies in alphabetic writing systems have shown that fast neural tuning for print occurs in the N1 component of the ERP with a larger negativity for familiar visual words than unfamiliar control stimuli. This N1 print tuning effect developed with learning to read and was reduced in children with dyslexia. Recent studies in Chinese with more closely matched visual control stimuli have suggested that print tuning is most prominent in the N1 onset, potentially reflecting an earlier onset of specialized print processing during the time of the P1-N1 transition. Here we aimed to replicate this effect in skilled adult readers and to test whether the size or onset of print tuning would be impaired in Chinese dyslexia. We tested children with (N=53) and without (N=47) dyslexia, as well as skilled adult readers (N=32) in an EEG one-back detection experiment with familiar Chinese and unfamiliar Korean characters. The analysis of the adults’ data replicated previous findings with a more negative N1 for Chinese than Korean in the N1 onset, but a reversed effect in the N1 offset. The analysis of the children’s data revealed that the N1 (onset and offset) was larger for Chinese than Korean in both groups of children, but not significantly different between the groups. However, the P1 was less positive for Chinese than Korean in the typical readers, and this difference was reduced in children with dyslexia. This interaction effect was especially pronounced in the P1 offset. The results suggest that in Chinese (and with closely matched control stimuli), print tuning and its relation to reading skills in dyslexia are reflected by differences in the P1-N1 transition. This is in agreement with the idea that reading expertise facilitates print processing by speeding up early visual processes, and that such facilitation is absent in dyslexia.

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