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The Effects of Properties of the Radicals in Radical Migration Phenomena

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Saito, H.; d’Arcais, Flores; Kawakami, M.; Masuda, H.

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Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University
Journal of Cognitive Science, Vol.11 No.1, pp. 79-127
illusory conjunctionletter migrationradical migrationkanji
Illusory conjunctions of letters have been observed with words presented in
alphabetic writing systems. The work here reported investigates a related phenomenon,
radical blending, that may occur during the processing of kanji,
the Japanese logographic script. In this work, we presented participants with
two briefly exposed source characters (e.g., 複 浴), each of which contained
two components or radicals. These characters were subsequently masked,
and then followed by a probe character (e.g., 裕) that, under critical conditions,
shared one or two radicals with the source characters. Participants were
asked to decide as quickly as possible if the probe was one of the two source
characters. We found that the probability of participants to erroneously report
that they had seen the probe in the source pair (i.e., produce a false positive
response) was related primarily to some consistency between the source and
the probe characters. This included the position of the same radicals in the
source and in the probe characters (local consistency) and the left or right position
of the characters in the source display (global consistency). Homophony
between source characters and the probe character also played some roles. The
results suggest that, in processing kanji characters, readers are sensitive to statistical
properties of radicals, such as the number of radicals taking left or right
position, and the number of their pronunciations.
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