Interference in character processing reflects common perceptual expertise across writing systems.

Wong AC, Qu Z, McGugin RW, Gauthier I
J Vis. 2011 11 (1): 15

PMID: 21245276 · PMCID: PMC3110266 · DOI:10.1167/11.1.15

Perceptual expertise, even within the visual domain, can take many forms, depending on the goals of the practiced task and the visual information available to support performance. Given the same goals, expertise for different categories can recruit common perceptual resources, which could lead to interference during concurrent processing. We measured whether irrelevant characters of one writing system produce interference during visual search for characters of another writing system, as a function of expertise. Chinese-English bilinguals and English readers searched for target Roman letters among other distractors in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequence. Chinese character distractors interfered with Roman letter search more than pseudoletter distractors, only for bilingual readers, suggesting a common perceptual bottleneck for Roman and Chinese processing in experts with both domains. We ruled out an explanation at the level of phonetic codes, by showing that concurrent verbal rehearsal has no effect on the magnitude of such interference. These findings converge with results showing competition between faces and cars in car experts to suggest that different domains of expertise that overlap in their cortical representations also possess a common perceptual bottleneck.

MeSH Terms (10)

Discrimination (Psychology) Female Humans Male Pattern Recognition, Visual Photic Stimulation Reaction Time Recognition (Psychology) Writing Young Adult

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