ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (5): 685-695.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.00685

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

fNIRS evidence for left middle frontal gyrus involved in visual-spatial analysis of Chinese characters

CHEN Fakun, CHEN Tian, CAI Wenqi, WANG Xiaojuan(), YANG Jianfeng()   

  1. School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
  • Received:2021-10-18 Published:2023-05-25 Online:2023-02-14
  • Contact: WANG Xiaojuan,YANG Jianfeng;
  • Supported by:
    The National Natural Science Foundation of China(31671167);Fundamental Research Funds For the Central Universities(GK202101010);Fundamental Research Funds For the Central Universities(2019TS141)


The left middle frontal gyrus (MFG) is a typical brain region identified in studies of Chinese character reading brain mechanisms, it exhibits specific activation in Chinese character reading. A common interpretation suggests that it is responsible for the unique visual-spatial processing of Chinese characters. However, this interpretation is not supported by direct evidence. This study manipulated the spatial frequency of visually presented Chinese character materials and explored this issue by using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) techniques. By constructing a 3 (character type: Real character, Pseudo character, and Artificial character) × 3 (spatial frequency: Full spatial frequency, Low spatial frequency, and High spatial frequency) repeated-measures experimental design, The blood oxygen concentration changes in the left MFG were recorded as participants completed a one-back task with repeated stimulus detection. It was found that the left MFG showed a significant main effect of character type, that was, Pseudo characters required more MFG activation than Real and Artificial characters. Moreover, the left MFG also showed a significant interaction effect of character type and spatial frequency, with Pseudo characters more activated MFG than Real and Artificial characters in the Low spatial frequency condition, while no significant activation difference of character types was found under the other two spatial frequency conditions. The results suggested that the left MFG was indeed sensitive to the spatial information of Chinese characters, more MFG activation was required especially in the Pseudo characters condition that required more graphemic/orthographic processing and in the processing of low spatial frequency information. The findings provided direct evidence that the left MFG was involved in the visuospatial processing of Chinese characters.

Key words: Chinese character reading, middle frontal gyrus, spatial frequency, fNIRS