© 2017 Winsler, Holcomb, Midgley and Grainger. Previous studies have shown that different spatial frequency information processing streams interact during the recognition of visual stimuli. However, it is a matter of debate as to the contributions of high and low spatial frequency (HSF and LSF) information for visual word recognition. This study examined the role of different spatial frequencies in visual word recognition using event-related potential (ERP) masked priming. EEG was recorded from 32 scalp sites in 30 English-speaking adults in a go/no-go semantic categorization task. Stimuli were white characters on a neutral gray background. Targets were uppercase five letter words preceded by a forward-mask (#######) and a 50 ms lowercase prime. Primes were either the same word (repeated) or a different word (un-repeated) than the subsequent target and either contained only high, only low, or full spatial frequency information. Additionally within each condition, half of the prime-target pairs were high lexical frequency, and half were low. In the full spatial frequency condition, typical ERP masked priming effects were found with an attenuated N250 (sub-lexical) and N400 (lexical-semantic) for repeated compared to un-repeated primes. For HSF primes there was a weaker N250 effect which interacted with lexical frequency, a significant reversal of the effect around 300 ms, and an N400-like effect for only high lexical frequency word pairs. LSF primes did not produce any of the classic ERP repetition priming effects, however they did elicit a distinct early effect around 200 ms in the opposite direction of typical repetition effects. HSF information accounted for many of the masked repetition priming ERP effects and therefore suggests that HSFs are more crucial for word recognition. However, LSFs did produce their own pattern of priming effects indicating that larger scale information may still play a role in word recognition.
Winsler, K., Holcomb, P. J., Midgley, K. J., & Grainger, J. (2017). Evidence for Separate Contributions of High and Low Spatial Frequencies during Visual Word Recognition. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00324