Poster D56, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
When Script met Sally: An ERP study on the impact of lexical processing during the early encoding of handwritten words
Marta Vergara-Martinez1, Manuel Carreiras2, Eva Gutierrez-Sigut1, Cristina Gil2, Manuel Perea1,2; 1Universitat de Valencia, 2Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL)
The legibility of the script has a strong impact in the recognition of handwritten words. Behaviorally, the word-frequency (WF) effect is greater for difficult-to-read handwritten words than for typewritten (printed) words. This effect may reflect the influence of top-down mechanisms in disambiguating noisy and ambiguous forms during visual-word recognition. In a lexical decision ERP experiment, we aimed to track the stages at which top-down processing meets early perceptual encoding. Participants were presented with high- and low-frequency words that varied in the legibility of the script (printed, easy-to-read handwritten, difficult-to-read handwritten). Behaviorally, the WF effect was larger for difficult-to-read than for easy-to-read handwritten words or printed words. The ERP data showed a large effect of script in early (perceptual) stages of processing: we found larger N170 amplitudes for handwritten than for printed words. More important, we found an interaction between Script and WF in the N170 amplitude (WF effects were already present in the two types of handwritten words, but not in the printed words). These results suggest that the “normalization process” (at a feature-to-letter level) entails an extra cost when encoding noisy and ambiguous letter forms (i.e., handwritten words), possibly reflecting an early effect of top-down feedback on the N170. This pattern of results is consistent with fully interactive models of visual-word recognition.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Lexicon