Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 14621119
Project Title(English) : Understanding the neural mechanisms of expert recognition of musical notation and Roman letters 
Project Title(Chinese) : 專家辨認音符和英文字母的神經機制 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Wong, Yetta Kwai-Ling  
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 黃桂玲教授 
Department : Dept of Educational Psychology
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Dr Tan, Cheng Yong
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Education
Exercise Year : 2019 / 20
Fund Approved : 588,200
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2021
Abstract as per original application
Reading is one of the most challenging skills to acquire in education settings. Fluent reading requires excellent visual abilities for processing the visual codes. For example, students devote a lot of effort and time to practice recognizing letters and words during schooling. In musical training, students are trained to efficiently process musical notation for performing, enriching one’s repertoire or for sight-reading. The development of these skills is not trivial, given the considerable individual differences in visual abilities even among expert readers. How do we explain such individual differences? This proposal focuses on how the experts’ brain processes visual codes of reading. While it is widely accepted that object recognition is achieved at later stages of visual processing, recent findings demonstrated that expert recognition of musical notation engages selective brain processes responsible for early visual processing, and these processes may be shared by expert letter recognition. What drives these early selective brain activities, and how do these activities support expert recognition? This proposal aims to understand the source and the functional significance of the early selective neural activities for expert note recognition and letter recognition. Study One will use electroencephalogram (EEG) to test whether the early selective activations for expert note recognition is driven by a type of diagnostic information for identifying musical notation – line junctions. Also, it will use machine learning and neural decoding techniques to identify the time frame when the experts’ brain extracts sufficient information for discriminating between musical notes and other stimuli, and for discriminating between different musical notes. Study Two will examine whether the early selective brain activities are also observed for expert letter recognition. It will systematically compare the source, functional significance and temporal dynamics of the neural mechanisms for expert letter recognition and expert note recognition. This research will have important theoretical impacts. First, it clarifies the conditions under which we will observe exceptional recruitment of early visual processes for object recognition. This will help modify existing theories of object recognition to better characterize the role of early and late visual processing in object recognition. Second, it will help understand one important process of skilled reading - how the brain learns to process the visual codes of reading efficiently. In the long run, it will help psychologists, neuroscientists and educators build a common ground to understand the development of skilled reading, and to formulate effective strategies for learning and teaching of reading skills.
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