The Neurocognitive Correlates of Statistical Learning of Orthography-Semantic Connections in Chinese Adult Learners

The Neurocognitive Correlates of Statistical Learning of Orthography-Semantic Connections in Chinese Adult Learners

First Author: Xiuhong Tong -- Psychology Department, The Education University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
Yi Wang; Xiuli Tong
Keywords: Chinese, visual word recognition, Statistical learning, N170, N400
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: We examined the neural correlates of statistical learning of orthography-semantic connections in Chinese adult learners.
Method: Nineteen participants (7 men and 12 women) aged 18 to 26 were recruited to participate in an ERP experiment designed to investigate the neural processes involved in online statistical learning of semantic regularities of radicals in Chinese. Statistical information in this experiment was manipulated by varying the semantic consistency of target radicals embedded in pseudocharacters carrying low, moderate, and high levels of semantic consistency. Participants had to complete two parts of the experiment consisting of a learning phase and a recognition test with a 2-min break. Participants’ neural activity was recorded only at the learning phase. But participants’ response accuracy and reaction time were recorded for both phases.
Results: Behavioural results showed that the overall mean performance was 63.1% for the recognition test, indicating that participants can rapidly acquire regularities of semantic radicals by using statistical information embedded in the learning materials. The ERP data revealed that high and moderate consistency levels produced more negative amplitudes than the low consistency level at N170, the mean amplitudes for the moderate and low consistency levels were more positive than the high consistency level at P200, the low consistency level produced more negative amplitudes than the moderate and high consistency levels at N400, and the moderate consistency level elicited more negative amplitudes than the high consistency level at N400. We proposed that the initial potential shifts (i.e., N170 and P200) may reflect orthographic or graphic form identification, while the somewhat later component (i.e., N400) may be associated with semantic information analysis.