Orthographic priming by fingerspelled and printed letters
Zed Sevcikova Sehyr1, Jamie Renna1, Katherine Midgley1, Karen Emmorey1, Philip Holcomb1; 1San Diego State University
ASL signers experience English orthography in two forms: printed letters and fingerspelled letters. We investigated the contribution of fingerspelled and English letter recognition to orthographic processing in deaf readers using a single letter priming paradigm. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded over 29 scalp sites while participants performed a probe detection task (detect the printed or fingerspelled letter Y). Targets were single letters presented in a typical printed English font or in an ASL fingerspelling font, tested in separate blocks, and presented centrally for 200ms immediately preceded by a 100ms prime that was either a English printed letter or a fingerspelled letter. Preliminary data from 8 deaf ASL signers suggested that fingerspelled letters primed English printed letters, but English printed letters did not prime fingerspelled letters. That is, when printed English letter targets were preceded by fingerspelled letter primes, the N2 component was larger to unrelated compared to repeated letter targets. When fingerspelled letter targets were preceded by printed letter primes, there was no difference between repeated and unrelated pairs within the N2 window suggesting the absence of a priming effect. These findings indicate that early in processing, fingerspelled letters are mapped to English letter representations, but printed English letters do not activate fingerspelled letters. This pattern is consistent with previous research indicating that deaf ASL signers recode fingerspelled words into English in short-term memory, whereas printed words are not recoded as fingerspelling (Sevcikova Sehyr, Petrich, & Emmorey, 2016) and might have important implications for skilled reading in deaf population.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other