Saturday, 28 May 2011

Arabic words recognized differently by the brain

The field of neurolinguisitics has recently shed light on how the brain deals with Arabic and whether this process is different from other languages. Recent findings from the University of Haifa suggest that "brain's right hemisphere is not involved in the initial processes of reading in Arabic, due to the graphic complexity of Arabic script" and that acquisition of Arabic reading skills for native speakers is more difficult than English for example. Another research paper released recently shows how Arabic words are best understood by the brain when it focuses on the center of the word as it appears on a page, due to the semantic root structure of Arabic words. English differs in that readers focus on the beginning and end of words. These findings are not exactly surprising, but it's nonetheless exciting to see more mainstream linguistic studies of Arabic available. 
This article is taken directly from the Dash24 news service and based on a research paper published by the University of Leicester- 
Arabic readers recognise words in a different way from readers of other languages a new study has discovered.
This doctoral research at the University of Leicester is analysing the reading differences of individuals as well as across languages - and has shown dissimilarities in how Arabic readers recognise words.
Conducted by Abubaker Almabruk from the School of Psychology, the study has shown there are clear differences in how the right and left sides of the brain recognise Arabic words. 
Almabruk’s study is one of the first to examine the cognitive and physiological processes underlying word recognition and reading in Arabic, providing important insight into the effects of direction of reading, the form of the script and the construction of the language.
His research reveals the intricacies of an everyday behaviour that most people find relatively easy and will help explain why some people find it difficult to read and provide insights into how these difficulties might be remedied.
Almabruk commented:
“Differences in left and right brain function influence the recognition of words each side of where a reader is looking on a page but only when these words are outside of central vision – this reveals both left/right brain specialisation for reading and evidence that the two halves of the brain collaborate when making sense of words in central vision. Native Arabic readers recognise Arabic words most efficiently when they fixate these words at their very centre.” 
“This shows that where we look in a word is very important for reading and the findings for Arabic are different from findings for English and other western languages, which are read most efficiently by looking at a location between the beginning and middle of the word.”
On the possible causes for the reading differences, he said that "this might have happened because Arabic is read from right to left and words are formed from cursive text (i.e., the letters in Arabic naturally join together, even in printed formats, much like hand-written text in English).”
Dr Kevin Paterson from the School of Psychology added:
“Arabic is one of the oldest and most beautiful languages, and the second-most widely used language in the world, yet how it is read and understood has received surprisingly little attention. The experimental approach that Abubaker has taken in his research promises to reveal a huge amount about how this language and other languages are read and understood.” 

1 comment:

  1. Any way to get a link to the actual article?