Orthography and the Hemispheres: Visual and Linguistic Aspects of Letter Processing

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Hebrew and Arabic are Semitic languages with a similar morphological structure and orthographies that differ in visual complexity. Two experiments explored the interaction of the characteristics of orthography and hemispheric abilities on lateralized versions of a letter-matching task (Experiment 1) and a global-local task (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, native Hebrew readers and native Arabic readers fluent in Hebrew matched letters in the 2 orthographies. The results support the hypothesis that Arabic orthography is more difficult than Hebrew orthography for participants who can read both languages and that this difficulty has its strongest effects in the left visual field. In Experiment 2, native Arabic speakers performed a global-local letter detection task with Arabic letters with 2 types of inconsistent stimuli: different and similar. The results support the hypothesis that the right hemisphere of skilled Arabic readers cannot distinguish between similar Arabic letters, whereas the left hemisphere can.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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