Expertise modulates hemispheric asymmetry in holistic processing: Evidence from Chinese character processing


Holistic processing (HP) has been proposed to be a characteristic of right hemisphere (RH) processing. Here we test this claim using the divided visual field paradigm with Chinese character stimuli. HP is assessed through the composite paradigm, which is commonly used in perceptual expertise research. We found that in novice Chinese readers, a standard HP pattern emerged only in the left visual field/RH but not in the right visual field/left hemisphere, consistent with the analytic/holistic hemispheric dichotomy in the literature. However, in expert Chinese readers, neither visual field showed the HP pattern, consistent with the finding that reduced HP is an expertise maker for Chinese character recognition. Thus, the RH does not always employ holistic processing; it depends on the perceivers’ experience with the stimuli. This is the first study demonstrating that expertise with a visual object type can modulate hemispheric difference in HP.

Back to Table of Contents