Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 517–526 | Cite as

Vernier But Not Grating Acuity Contributes to an Early Stage of Visual Word Processing

  • Yufei Tan
  • Xiuhong Tong
  • Wei Chen
  • Xuchu Weng
  • Sheng He
  • Jing Zhao


The process of reading words depends heavily on efficient visual skills, including analyzing and decomposing basic visual features. Surprisingly, previous reading-related studies have almost exclusively focused on gross aspects of visual skills, while only very few have investigated the role of finer skills. The present study filled this gap and examined the relations of two finer visual skills measured by grating acuity (the ability to resolve periodic luminance variations across space) and Vernier acuity (the ability to detect/discriminate relative locations of features) to Chinese character-processing as measured by character form-matching and lexical decision tasks in skilled adult readers. The results showed that Vernier acuity was significantly correlated with performance in character form-matching but not visual symbol form-matching, while no correlation was found between grating acuity and character processing. Interestingly, we found no correlation of the two visual skills with lexical decision performance. These findings provide for the first time empirical evidence that the finer visual skills, particularly as reflected in Vernier acuity, may directly contribute to an early stage of hierarchical word processing.


Visual word processing Vernier acuity Grating acuity Visual skill 



This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81301175, 31771229 and 31371134).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors claim that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yufei Tan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xiuhong Tong
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wei Chen
    • 4
  • Xuchu Weng
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sheng He
    • 5
    • 6
  • Jing Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Institutes of Psychological Sciences, Hangzhou Normal UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Research in Assessment of Cognitive ImpairmentsHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Center for Cognition and Brain DisorderHangzhou Normal UniversityHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Objects and Knowledge LaboratoryNew York University Abu DhabiAbu DhabiUAE
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of BiophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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