The Effect of expertise and biscriptalism on letter perception: The complexity benefit


Previous work has demonstrated that the visual complexity of letter-shapes is processed differently by naïve and expert observers. Specifically, fluent readers of the Arabic alphabet were found to discriminate complex letters more readily than less complex letters, whereas naïve observers exhibited the opposite effect. This “complexity benefit”, wherein complex letters confer a processing advantage to expert observers, is not yet well understood. In a new study, we investigate whether this effect generalizes across scripts, and whether it is unique to individuals with biscriptal experience (knowledge of reading two different scripts). The results of the three experiments confirm that the complexity benefit is characteristic of expert monoscriptal and biscriptal readers, and that, furthermore, there may be a biscriptal advantage in processing visual complexity.

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