Language Experience Modulates the Visual N200 Response for Disyllabic Chinese Words: An Event-Related Potential Study

Jiang Liu, Yang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Prior event-related potential (ERP) research on how the brain processes non-alphabetic scripts like Chinese has identified an N200 component related to early visual processing of Chinese disyllabic words. An enhanced N200 response was observed when similar prime-target pairs were presented, but it was not elicited when native Chinese speakers read Korean Hangul, a script resembling Chinese characters. This led to the proposal that N200 was not a universal marker for orthographic processing but rather specific and unique to Chinese. However, there was uncertainty due to the absence of Korean participants in the previous research. The impact of language experience on N200 remains unclear. To address this, the present pilot ERP study included three adult groups (totaling 30 participants) with varying language proficiency levels. The participants judged if randomly presented words were Chinese or Korean, while the ERP responses were recorded. The behavioral data showed high accuracy across the groups. The reaction times differed between the groups with the native speakers responding faster. The N200 patterns varied across the groups. Both Chinese native speakers and Chinese-as-second-language learners showed stronger N200 responses for Chinese words compared to Korean words regardless of whether an adaptive or a fixed-time window was used for the N200 quantification, but this was not the case for Korean native speakers. Our cross-linguistic study suggests that N200 is not exclusive to Chinese orthography. Instead, it reflects general visual processing sensitive to both orthographic features and learning experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1321
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This collaborative work was supported in part by the National Social Science Foundation of China (18ZDA293), the Grand Challenges Exploratory Research Grant from the Provost’s Office, and Brain Imaging Grant and Seed Grant from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • Chinese orthography
  • ERP
  • Korean Hangul
  • language experience
  • N200

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Language Experience Modulates the Visual N200 Response for Disyllabic Chinese Words: An Event-Related Potential Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this