The time course of visual influences in letter recognition


  • Madec Sylvain
  • Le Goff Kevin
  • Riès Stéphanie K.
  • Legou Thierry
  • Rousselet Guillaume
  • Courrieu Pierre
  • Alario F. -Xavier
  • Grainger Jonathan
  • Rey Arnaud


  • Letter processing
  • Visual perception
  • Event-related potentials

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This study builds on a specific characteristic of letters of the Roman alphabet-namely, that each letter name is associated with two visual formats, corresponding to their uppercase and lowercase versions. Participants had to read aloud the names of single letters, and event-related potentials (ERPs) for six pairs of visually dissimilar upper- and lowercase letters were recorded. Assuming that the end product of processing is the same for upper- and lowercase letters sharing the same vocal response, ERPs were compared backward, starting from the onset of articulatory responses, and the first significant divergence was observed 120 ms before response onset. Given that naming responses were produced at around 414 ms, on average, these results suggest that letter processing is influenced by visual information until 294 ms after stimulus onset. This therefore provides new empirical evidence regarding the time course and interactive nature of visual letter perception processes.

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