Vernier But Not Grating Acuity Contributes to an Early Stage of Visual Word Processing

Yufei Tan, Xiuhong Tong, Wei Chen, Xuchu Weng, Sheng He, Jing Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The process of reading words depends heavily on efficient visual skills, including analyzing and decomposing basic visual features. Surprisingly, previous reading-related studies have almost exclusively focused on gross aspects of visual skills, while only very few have investigated the role of finer skills. The present study filled this gap and examined the relations of two finer visual skills measured by grating acuity (the ability to resolve periodic luminance variations across space) and Vernier acuity (the ability to detect/discriminate relative locations of features) to Chinese character-processing as measured by character form-matching and lexical decision tasks in skilled adult readers. The results showed that Vernier acuity was significantly correlated with performance in character form-matching but not visual symbol form-matching, while no correlation was found between grating acuity and character processing. Interestingly, we found no correlation of the two visual skills with lexical decision performance. These findings provide for the first time empirical evidence that the finer visual skills, particularly as reflected in Vernier acuity, may directly contribute to an early stage of hierarchical word processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81301175, 31771229 and 31371134).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.


  • Grating acuity
  • Vernier acuity
  • Visual skill
  • Visual word processing


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