Original Paper

Brain Topography

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 292-302

First online:

How Does Arabic Orthographic Connectivity Modulate Brain Activity During Visual Word Recognition: An ERP Study

  • Haitham TahaAffiliated withEdmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of HaifaDepartment of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa
  • , Raphiq IbrahimAffiliated withEdmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of HaifaDepartment of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa
  • , Asaid KhatebAffiliated withEdmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, University of HaifaDepartment of Learning Disabilities, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa Email author 

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Abstract

One of the unique features of the Arabic orthography that differentiates it from many other alphabetical ones is the fact that most letters connect obligatorily to each other. Hence, these letters change their forms according to the location in the word (i.e. beginning, middle, or end), leading to the suggestion that connectivity adds a visual load which negatively impacts reading in Arabic. In this study, we investigated the effects of the orthographic connectivity on the time course of early brain electric responses during the visual word recognition. For this purpose, we collected event-related potentials (ERPs) from adult skilled readers while performing a lexical decision task using fully connected (Cw), partially connected and non-connected words (NCw). Reaction times variance was higher and accuracy was lower in NCw compared to Cw words. ERPs analysis revealed significant amplitude and latency differences between Cw and NCw at posterior electrodes during the N170 component which implied the temporo-occipital areas. Our findings show that instead of slowing down reading, orthographic connectivity in Arabic skilled readers seems to impact positively the reading process already during the early stages of word recognition. These results are discussed in relation to previous observations in the literature.

Keywords

Arabic orthography Visual word recognition Lexical decision Event-related potentials N170 component Source localization