Transfer of the left-side bias effect in perceptual expertise: The case of simplified and traditional Chinese character recognition
The left-side bias (LSB) effect observed in face and expert Chinese character perception is suggested to be an expertise marker for visual object recognition. However, in character perception this effect is limited to characters printed in a familiar font (font-sensitive LSB effect). Here we investigated whether the LSB and font-sensitive LSB effects depend on participants’ familiarity with global structure or local component information of the stimuli through examining their transfer effects across simplified and traditional Chinese scripts: the two Chinese scripts share similar overall structures but differ in the visual complexity of local components in general. We found that LSB in expert Chinese character processing could be transferred to the Chinese script that the readers are unfamiliar with. In contrast, the font-sensitive LSB effect did not transfer, and was limited to characters with the visual complexity the readers were most familiar with. These effects suggest that the LSB effect may be generalized to another visual category with similar overall structures; in contrast, effects of within-category variations such as fonts may depend on familiarity with local component information of the stimuli, and thus may be limited to the exemplars of the category that experts are typically exposed to.