Music reading expertise modulates hemispheric lateralization in English word processing but not in Chinese character processing

Sara Tze Kwan Li, Janet Hui wen Hsiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Music notation and English word reading both involve mapping horizontally arranged visual components to components in sound, in contrast to reading in logographic languages such as Chinese. Accordingly, music-reading expertise may influence English word processing more than Chinese character processing. Here we showed that musicians named English words significantly faster than non-musicians when words were presented in the left visual field/right hemisphere (RH) or the center position, suggesting an advantage of RH processing due to music reading experience. This effect was not observed in Chinese character naming. A follow-up ERP study showed that in a sequential matching task, musicians had reduced RH N170 responses to English non-words under the processing of musical segments as compared with non-musicians, suggesting a shared visual processing mechanism in the RH between music notation and English non-word reading. This shared mechanism may be related to the letter-by-letter, serial visual processing that characterizes RH English word recognition (e.g., Lavidor & Ellis, 2001), which may consequently facilitate English word processing in the RH in musicians. Thus, music reading experience may have differential influences on the processing of different languages, depending on their similarities in the cognitive processes involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-173
Number of pages15
JournalCognition
Volume176
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chinese character processing
  • EEG
  • English word processing
  • Event-related potential (ERP)
  • Music reading expertise
  • Visual word processing

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