Whole-object effects in visual word processing: Parallels with and differences from face recognition

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Visual words and faces differ in their structural properties, but both are objects of high expertise. Holistic processing is said to characterize expert face recognition, but the extent to which whole-word processes contribute to word recognition is unclear, particularly as word recognition is thought to proceed by a component-based process. We review the evidence for experimental effects in word recognition that parallel those used to support holistic face processing, namely inversion effects, the part-whole task, and composite effects, as well as the status of whole-word processing in pure alexia and developmental dyslexia, contrasts between familiar and unfamiliar languages, and the differences between handwriting and typeset font. The observations support some parallels in whole-object influences between face and visual word recognition, but do not necessarily imply similar expert mechanisms. It remains to be determined whether and how the relative balance between part-based and whole-object processing differs for visual words and faces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)231-257
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

ID: 279849217