The aim of this study was to compare spatiotemporal cortical activation patterns during the visual perception of Korean, English, and Chinese words. The comparison of these three languages offers an opportunity to study the effect of written forms on cortical processing of visually presented words, because of partial similarity/difference among words of these languages, and the familiarity of native Koreans with these three languages at the word level. Single-character words and pictograms were excluded from the stimuli in order to activate neuronal circuitries that are involved only in word perception. Since a variety of cerebral processes are sequentially evoked during visual word perception, a high-temporal resolution is required and thus we utilized event-related potential (ERP) obtained from high-density electroencephalograms. The differences and similarities observed from statistical analyses of ERP amplitudes, the correlation between ERP amplitudes and response times, and the patterns of current source density, appear to be in line with demands of visual and semantic analysis resulting from the characteristics of each language, and the expected task difficulties for native Korean subjects.
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