The modulation of word type frequency on hemispheric lateralization of visual word recognition: Evidence from modeling Chinese character recognition


In Chinese orthography, a dominant structure exists in which a semantic radical appears on the left and a phonetic radical on the right (SP characters); the minority, opposite arrangement also exists (PS characters). Recent studies showed that SP character processing is more left hemisphere (LH) lateralized than PS character processing; nevertheless, it remains unclear whether this is due to phonetic radical position or character type frequency. Through computational modeling with artificial lexicons, in which we implement a theory of hemispheric asymmetry in perception but do not assume phonological processing being LH lateralized, we show that the difference in character type frequency alone is sufficient to exhibit the effect that the dominant type has a stronger LH lateralization than the minority type. This effect is due to higher visual similarity among characters in the dominant type than the minority type, demonstrating the modulation of word type frequency on hemispheric lateralization.

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