Holistic Processing of Words Modulated by Reading Experience
Perceptual expertise has been studied intensively with faces and object categories involving detailed individuation. A common finding is that experience in fulfilling the task demand of fine, subordinate-level discrimination between highly similar instances is associated with the development of holistic processing. This study examines whether holistic processing is also engaged by expert word recognition, which is thought to involve coarser, basic-level processing that is more part-based. We adopted a paradigm widely used for faces – the composite task, and found clear evidence of holistic processing for English words. A second experiment further showed that holistic processing for words was sensitive to the amount of experience with the language concerned (native vs. second-language readers) and with the specific stimuli (words vs. pseudowords). The adoption of a paradigm from the face perception literature to the study of expert word perception is important for further comparison between perceptual expertise with words and face-like expertise.
from PLoS ONE