Monday, June 2, 2008

Burgund & Edwards (2008) in Neuroreport

In this fMRI study of letter priming in the VWFA, the authors compared same-identity and different-identity primes that both had moderate visual similarity to the target. They found no advantage for the same-identity primes, and concluded that the VWFA does not employ abstract letter representations.

However, the task that the subjects performed was based on a visual attribute - whether the letter had an enclosed space. It is perhaps not surprising then that priming was determined by the visual similarity between the prime and the target. It is quite possible that a task based on letter identity would show a different pattern of results.

Also, there is some evidence (e.g., studies by Gauthier and colleagues) that single letters are processed differently than strings. So studies using single-letter tasks may not tap into the abstract letter representations used for string processing.

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