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Lei, Chia-Ming (2018) HEMISPHERIC LATERALIZATION FOR LANGUAGE EXAMINED WITH CHINESE CHARACTERS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The extent and nature of right cerebral hemisphere (RH) contributions to language processing remain a matter of debate. Exploiting unique features of Chinese characters, two studies investigated two questions regarding the RH’s potential contributions: (1) Does the RH contribute preferentially to visual-word-form analysis of radical configurations in Chinese characters, independently of low spatial frequencies? (2) Does the RH contribute preferentially to semantic processing by accessing meaning directly through Chinese orthography, bypassing phonology? Participants were 35 right-handed native Chinese adults with at least high-school education. Participants completed both studies which incorporated divided visual field presentation of stimuli.
The first study employed a radical configuration matching task, with lateralized presentation of the second stimulus in each stimulus pair to be matched. Each pair was presented in a normal or a low spatial frequency condition. Results showed that the RH demonstrates some specialty in processing radical configurations, and that radical configuration and spatial frequency are processed as two independent entities. The frequency of exposure to different types of radical configurations was proposed as a modulator of the RH’s involvement.
The second study incorporated a primed lexical decision task, with two types of primes: those conveying only semantic information and those conveying both semantic and phonological information. Target characters held weak semantic associations with both types of primes.
Lateralized stimulus presentation was used for the primes. Results suggested that the RH accesses semantic information through orthography regardless of whether phonological information is embedded.
The first study challenges the assumed relationship between the RH and radical configuration processing via the presumed connection to low spatial frequencies. The findings also lead to new questions, including whether exposure effects are potential modifiers of the RH’s involvement. The second study identifies a role for the RH in accessing semantics via orthography directly. This work leads to questions about the specific neural underpinnings of this route, and about whether level of Chinese script knowledge modulates this route’s accessibility. Taken together, the results of these studies and the future work they will spur will continue to advance our understanding of the RH’s critical role in language processing.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTompkins,
Committee CoChairDickey,
Committee MemberMcNeil,
Committee MemberTerhorst,
Date: 10 January 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 November 2017
Approval Date: 10 January 2018
Submission Date: 21 November 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 131
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Psycholinguistics, Right hemisphere, Chinese characters, Hemispheric lateralization
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 15:10
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 15:10


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