The analysis of spatial relations among components of a character is important in identifying visual word forms. We investigated such spatial configuration processing for Chinese characters in dyslexic children (aged 9–12 years) and two groups of typically developing children, matched according to chronological age or reading level. In this study, we used real characters and noncharacters to manipulate the spatial configuration between character components while preserving their local features. Both characters were displayed either in an upright or inverted position. Participants were asked to quickly determine whether the two presented stimuli were identical. A significant interaction between character type and character orientation showed children's matching performance was better in upright real characters than in the inverted version, but such effect was absent in noncharacters. This indicated that regardless of reading skills, children developed the ability to use local configuration information to visually identify words. Dyslexic children performed poorly in both real-character and noncharacter conditions. Furthermore, compared with control groups, dyslexic children performed worse in real-character conditions, which were close to the noncharacter performance of other groups. This reflected an impairment of global visual word-form processing (i.e., spatial configuration between components) in dyslexia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology