Differential Brain Activity in Reading Hangul and Hanja in Korean Language

  • Hyo Woon Yoon
  • Ji-Hyang Lim
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 151)


Even though the Korean words (Hangul) are characterized as phonemes like other alphabetic languages, their shape resembles much more morphemes like Chinese characters (Hanja). The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging permits the collection of brain activation patterns when native Korean speakers (12 persons as subjects) read Hangul and Hanja. The Korean language uses both alphabetic Hangul and logographic Hanja in its writing system. Our experimental results show that the activation patterns obtained for reading Hanja by Korean native speakers involve neural mechanisms that are similar to Chinese native speakers; i.e. strong left-lateralized middle frontal cortex activation. For the case of Korean word reading, the activation pattern in the bilateral fusiform gyrus, left middle frontal gyrus, left superior temporal gyrus, right mid temporal gyrus, precentral gyrus, and insula was observed


Word perception brain activity frontal cortex 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Price, C.J.: The anatomy of language: contributions from functional neuroimaging. J. Anat. 3, 335–359 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Demonet, J.E., Chollet, F., Ramsay, S., Cardebat, D., Nespoulus, J.N., Wise, R., Rascol, A., Frackowiak, R.: The anatomy of phonological and semantic processing in normal subjects. Brain 115, 1753–1768 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bookheimer, S.: Functional MRI of language: New approaches to understanding the cortical organization of semantic processing. Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 25, 151–188 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    de Zubicaray, G.I., Wilson, S.J., McMahon, K.L., Muthiah, S.: The semantic interference effect in the picture-word paradigm: An event-related fMRI study employing overt responses. Human Brain Mapping 14, 218–227 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tzeng, O., Hung, D., Cotton, B., Wang, W.S.-Y.: Visual lateralisation effect in reading Chinese characters. Nature 282, 499–501 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ding, G., Perry, C., Peng, D., Ma, L., Li, D., Xu, S., Luo, Q., Xu, D., Yang, J.: Neural mechanisms underlying semantic and orthographic processing in Chinese-English bilinguals. NeuroReport 14, 1557–1562 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tan, L.H., Spinks, J.A., Gao, J.-H., Liu, H.-L., Perfetti, C.A., Xiong, J., Stofer, K.A., Pu, Y., Liu, Y., Fox, P.T.: Brain activation in the processing of Chinese characters and words: a functional MRI study. Human Brain Mapping 10, 16–27 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wang, M., Koda, K., Perfetti, C.A.: Alphabetic and nonalphabetic L1 effects in English word identification: a comparison of Korean and Chinese English L2 learners. Cognition 87, 129–149 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kim, H., Na, D.: Dissociation of pure Korean words and Chinese-derivative words in phonological dysgraphia. Brain and Language 74, 134–137 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nakamura, K., Dehaene, S., Jobert, A., Le Bihan, D., Kouider, S.: Subliminal Convergence of Kanji and Kana Words: Further Evidence for Functional Parcellation of the Posterior Temporal Cortex in Visual Word Perception. J. Cog. Neurosci. 17(6), 954–968 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gusnard, D., Raichle, M.: Searching for a baseline: functional imaging and the resting human brain. Nat. Rev., Neurosci. 2, 685–694 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kuo, W., Yeh, T.C., Duann, J.-R., Wu, Y.-T., Ho, L.-W., Hung, D., Tzeng, O.J.L., Hsieh, J.-C.: A left-lateralized network for reading Chinese words: a 3 T fMRI study. NeuroReport 12, 3997–4001 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tan, L.H., Liu, H.-L., Perfetti, C.A., Spinks, J.A., Fox, P.T., Gao, J.-H.: The neural system underlying Chinese logograph reading. NeuroImage 13, 836–846 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chee, M., Tan, E., Thiel, T.: Mandarin and English single word processing studies with functional magnetic resonance imaging. J. Neurosci. 19, 3050–3056 (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chee, M.W., Weekes, B., Lee, K.M., Soon, C.S., Schreiber, A., Hoon, J.J., Chee, M.: Overlap and dissociation of semantic processing of Chinese characters, English words, and pictures: evidence from fMRI. NeuroImage 12, 392–403 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Zhang, W., Feng, L.: Interhemispheric interaction affected by identification of Chinese characters. Brain and Cognition 39, 93–99 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mathews, P.M., Adcock, J., Chen, Y., Fu, S., Devlin, J.T., Rushworth, M.F.S., Smith, S., Beckmann, C., Iversen, S.: Towards understanding language organization in the brain using fMRI. Human Brain Mapping 18, 239–247 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Courtney, S.M., Petit, L., Maisog, J.M., Ungeleider, L.G., Haxby, J.V.: An area specialized for spatial working memory in human frontal cortex. Science 279, 1347–1351 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Owen, A.M., Doyon, J., Petrides, M., Evans, A.C.: Planning and spatial-working memory: A positron emission tomography study in humans. Eur. J. Neurosci. 8, 353–364 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyo Woon Yoon
    • 1
  • Ji-Hyang Lim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of art therapyDaegu Cyber UniversityDaeguKorea

Personalised recommendations