Can experience with different types of writing system modulate holistic processing in speech perception?


Holistic processing (HP) is an expertise marker in visual perception; nevertheless, it can be modulated by writing experience (Tso, Au, & Hsiao, 2014). We have recently found that HP also indicates expertise in Cantonese speech perception (Liu & Hsiao, 2014). Nevertheless, Cantonese has a logographic writing system where one syllable corresponds to one character, whereas in alphabetic languages, each syllable can be decomposed into phonemes that correspond to letters. This distinction between logographic and alphabetic languages may also modulate HP effects in speech perception. Here we tested HP effects through the composite paradigm with Korean syllables. In contrast to Cantonese speech perception, native Korean speakers were less holistic than novices in Korean syllable perception. Thus, experience with an alphabetic language may promote analytic processing of its spoken syllables. Similar to visual perception, our results suggest that HP as an expertise marker in speech perception depends on the listeners’ learning experience.

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