Cognitive Neuroscience Studies of the Chinese Language

Cognitive Neuroscience Studies of the Chinese Language

Henry S. R. Kao
Che-Kan Leong
Ding-Guo Gao
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Cognitive Neuroscience Studies of the Chinese Language
    Book Description:

    What are the linguistic constituents and structural components of Chinese characters and words? Does the spoken language provide a basis for reading different writing systems, including Chinese? How do the results of current neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies of processing Chinese converge with cognitive behavioural data? Are similar neurocognitive networks involved in reading alphabetic English and morphosyllabic Chinese? This volume brings together the related disciplines of neuroscience, cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics to explain some of the complex issues in understanding the processing of the Chinese language. Using current research findings and theories, chapters by leading researchers explore topics such as learning to read Chinese, word identification by readers of different skill and the development of Chinese vocabulary.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-077-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Henry S. R. Kao
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 ‘Cognitive Conjunction’ Analysis of Processing Chinese
    (pp. 1-32)
    Che-Kan Leong

    In as much as any one person can be so credited, Nobel laureate Herbert Simon is usually regarded as the founder of cognitive science. He explained the field as ‘the study of intelligence and its computational processes in humans (and animals), in computers, and in the abstract’ (Simon & Kaplan, 1989, p. 2). Intelligence systems in this context are identified with adaptability, with learning, problem solving and evolution. Simon and Kaplan discussed from a computational standpoint the contributions to cognitive science from psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy and neuroscience to explain the architecture of intelligence systems and different levels of abstraction....

  6. Part 1 Neurocognitive Architecture of Language
    • 2 How the Mind Can Meet the Brain in Reading: A Comparative Writing Systems Approach
      (pp. 35-60)
      Charles A. Perfetti, Ying Liu and Li-Hai Tan

      Reading is at once both simple and rich — simple enough for cognitive research to have gained an increasingly clear picture of how it works; rich enough to yield important lingering questions to be addressed by the convergence of cognitive and neurocognitive methods. One particular characteristic of reading can illustrate this simplicity and richness: it begins with a reader looking at marks that are encoded in a system — a writing system. We have to take into account that the world has different writing systems if we want to achieve a full understanding of the reading processes. In what follows,...

    • 3 Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: A Promising Tool for Defining the Organization of Chinese Language in the Brain
      (pp. 61-76)
      Paul M. Matthews, Shimin Fu, Yi-Ping Chen and Susan Iversen

      A fundamental problem in language studies is to determine whether the written form of a language influences the way in which information is encoded in the brain. Study of the Chinese language offers a potentially powerful strategy for addressing this question. Chinese is unique relative to English and other alphabetic languages because, with the introduction of Pinyin, spoken language used can be represented in two distinct forms, one with a morphographic script and the other with a phonetic-based language.

      Chinese characters convey information by virtue of the organization of lines in space. They have a structure and their interpretation depends...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • 4 Emergent Semantic Structure and Language Acquisition: A Dynamic Perspective
      (pp. 79-98)
      Ping Li

      The representation of language has been traditionally considered as a construction out of basic structural building blocks in the form of symbols and rules. This approach tends to look at linguistic representations statically. A contrasting approach, in the spirit of recent developments in connectionist networks and statistical learning, attempts to capture linguistic representations dynamically. It considers linguistic representations as emergent properties that evolve out of a continuously developing and adapting system. An easy way to understand this latter approach is to consider how a hexagonal shape emerges from the honeycomb: every honeybee packs a small amount of honey to the...

  7. Part 2 Interfacing Orthographic, Phonological and Semantic Processing
    • 5 Picture-Word Interference Effects on Naming in Chinese
      (pp. 101-128)
      Brendan Weekes, Robert Davies and May Jane Chen

      The presence of a semantic relationship between the name of a target picture and a distractor word (e.g., CAT-dog) hampers picture naming in a picture-word interference task, whereas a graphemic-phonological relationship between a distractor word and the name of a target picture (e.g., CAT-cap) facilitates word naming. One issue to emerge from this research is the relative contribution of graphemic and phonological information to the facilitation effect. In alphabetic languages, orthography and phonology are unavoidably confounded, making it difficult to establish the loci of graphemic and phonological facilitation effects. However, in non-alphabetic languages such as Chinese it is possible to...

    • 6 Speed of Getting at the Phonology and Meaning of Chinese Words
      (pp. 129-142)
      Rumjahn Hoosain

      In psycholinguistic studies of the Chinese language we have witnessed two myths. An earlier one was that processing of the ideographic symbols is lateralized in the right hemisphere. Its empirical support came from: (a) the finding of greater Stroop effect for Chinese, with Biederman and Tsao (1979) suggesting that both the processing of colours and Chinese colour names were lateralized in the right hemisphere and thus producing greater interference compared with colour names printed in English, (b) reports of crossed aphasia in Chinese aphasic patients (e.g., April & Tse, 1977), with right hemisphere damage resulting in language impairment, and (c) the...

    • 7 Reading Efficiency and Reading Strategies
      (pp. 143-156)
      Yi-Ping Chen

      Current word recognition models consider that single word reading may involve the activation of the orthographic, phonological and semantic codes of written words in parallel (Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989). However, even if all information sources of written words are activated and become available, readers may not necessarily use them all at the same time. They may select different kinds of information (such as visual, semantic and phonological) for reading. The use of different information sources of written words is sometimes calledreading strategiesorskill(Barron, 1978, 1981). The association between reading skill and reading strategies has been extensively studied (especially...

    • 8 Early Phonological Activation in Reading Kanji: An Eye-Tracking Study
      (pp. 157-172)
      Sachiko Matsunaga

      Many researchers agree that regardless of the script type, phonology plays a crucial role in holding information in working memory during reading (e.g., Dewey, 1996; Hayes, 1988; Kleiman, 1975; Treiman, Baron & Luk, 1981 ; Tzeng & Hung, 1980; Tzeng, Hung & Wang, 1977; Zhang & Perfetti, 1993). However, the timing of phonological activation (i.e., whether prelexical or lexical phonology is possible) during reading remains a controversial issue, especially in non-alphabetic languages like Chinese and Japanese that employ kanji (Chinese characters; see Leong & Tamaoka, 1998; also see Wang, Inhoff & Chen, 1999).

      In both Chinese and Japanese, there are studies in support of early phonology...

  8. Part 3 Structural Relationship of Components of Chinese Characters
    • 9 Visual-Spatial Properties and Orthographic Processing of Chinese Characters
      (pp. 175-194)
      Xuefeng Chen and Henry S. R. Kao

      The termorthographyis used by some authors for spelling patterns and for correct or standard spelling rules of scripts (Richards, Platt, & Weber, 1985). From writing system to writing system, orthographic information differs. Mason (1975) identified orthographic information as a form of redundancy that can be used to augment visual feature information. She initially isolated four possible sources of information in word recognition. The first two are the direct visual information about the distinctive features of individual letters within a word and the direct visual information about the spatial position of letters in a letter string. Mason’s definition implies a...

    • 10 Psycho-Geometric Analysis of Commonly Used Chinese Characters
      (pp. 195-206)
      Ding-Guo Gao and Henry S. R. Kao

      Although there are almost one hundred thousand Chinese characters, which have been used across different historical periods (see Wan & Hsia, 1957; Zhou, 1999), there are only around 5,000 characters, which are in active usage in modern Chinese language (e.g., Ann, 1986; Suen, 1986; Wang & Chang, 1986). According to Ann, 3,500 most frequently used characters in Hong Kong cover 99.80% of the common usage of Chinese characters. Generally, a person would on the average be able to read 99.80% of all the characters contained in selected texts in a 1,000-character article if she or he masters these 3,500 characters. Wang and...

    • 11 Frequency and Position Effects of Component Combination in Chinese Character Recognition
      (pp. 207-224)
      Buxin Han

      The morphological constituent of Chinese character has been named as ‘radical’ or ‘component’. A radical is the structural unit of character used for sorting or retrieving related characters, as used in dictionaries (e.g., 木, 氵, 灬 ); whereas a component is the structural constituents of a character (e.g., 广, 刂, 厶, ス). Therefore, all radicals are included in a component set, but a component is not necessarily a radical (Wang, Cui, & Chai, 1997). A component has been shown to be a functional unit (Han, 1994a; Peng & Wang, 1997; Yu, Cao, Feng, & Li, 1990; Zhang & Feng, 1992). Another structural unit, the component...

  9. Part 4 Learning Chinese Characters and Words
    • 12 Segmental Analysis and Reading in Chinese
      (pp. 227-246)
      Che-Kan Leong

      In learning to read, children need to make contact from their developed ability of listening and speaking with what the graphic symbols in different writing systems or orthographies represent. Emergent readers need to be aware of, or sensitive to, the mapping between speech sounds and the basic graphic units in order to access print. While there are certain universal phonological principles governing the translation from speech sounds to orthographic representation, the phonological involvement is constrained by variations in language or orthography systems (Frost & Katz, 1992; Leong, 1997; Leong & Joshi, 1997). The English orthography, for example, is morphophonemic and is represented...

    • 13 Biscriptal Reading in Chinese
      (pp. 247-262)
      Agnes S. L. Lam

      The Chinese language offers unusual opportunities for exploring the psycholinguistic effects in reading two closely related linguistic systems because the same writing script can be read in different dialectal pronunciations. At the same time, two scripts can be read with a single pronunciation. Earlier work (Lam, Perfetti & Bell, 1991) has already obtained interesting effects concerning automatic phonetic transfer for bidialectal readers. Readers fluent in both Putonghua and Cantonese cannot suppress the pronunciation of their first dialect when asked to read only in their second dialect. The present study focuses on the effects of reading two scripts with one pronunciation. The...

    • 14 Differences in Chinese Character Identification Between Skilled and Less Skilled Young Readers
      (pp. 263-284)
      Judy Huei-Yu Wang and John T. Guthrie

      Achievement differences in reading English are related to the accurate and rapid identification of words (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998; Daneman, 1991). Research shows that the phonological process is central to identify a word and plays a significant role in accounting the differences between good and poor readers (Guthrie & Tyler, 1976; Jorm & Share, 1983; Perfetti, Finger, & Hogaboam, 1978). This results from the fact that English is an alphabetic writing system, in which readers must first learn the spelling-to-sound rules and then the meaning unit of a word (see details in Ehri, 1994). Unlike English, Chinese is a logographic writing system that uses...

    • 15 The Developing Lexicon: The Case of Hong Kong Secondary Students
      (pp. 285-306)
      Benjamin K. Y. T’sou, Anna S. F. Kwan and Godfrey K. F. Liu

      The present study is a part of an ongoing Chinese vocabulary research, which seeks to investigate the lexical development of secondary and tertiary students in four Asian cities (Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Singapore) and to contribute to the setting of literacy benchmarks for Chinese language education in Hong Kong.

      Vocabulary development is a crucial area of research because it relates closely to cognitive development (Anderson & Freebody, 1981 ; Terman, 1916; Wechsler, 1949) and academic achievement (Miller, 1988; Saville-Troike, 1984; Stanovich, 1986). In language development, vocabulary serves as basic building blocks in generating and understanding sentences (Miller, 1991) and in...

    • 16 Chinese Lexical Knowledge Development: Strategies for Decoding Unfamiliar Words
      (pp. 307-326)
      Anna S. F. Kwan and Benjamin K. Y. T’sou

      This study is part of an international study on the Chinese lexical development of secondary and tertiary students in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Singapore (T’sou, Kwan & Liu, 1997). The major aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between learners’ lexical development and strategies used in decoding unfamiliar Chinese lexical items isolated from context. Research shows that vocabulary acquisition can result fromintentionalandincidentallearning. Intentional learning is learning as being planned for, whereas incidental learning is a by-product of doing something else. Only a small proportion of our vocabulary is acquired by intentional learning (Anderson & Nagy,...

  10. Index
    (pp. 327-330)