Visual word recognition is commonly rapid and efficient, incorporating top–down predictive processing mechanisms. Neuroimaging studies with face stimuli suggest that repetition suppression (RS) reflects predictive processing at the neural level, as this effect is larger when repetitions are more frequent, that is, more expected. It remains unclear, however, at the temporal level whether and how RS and its modulation by expectation occur in visual word recognition. To address this gap, the present study aimed to investigate the presence and time course of these effects during visual word recognition using EEG. Thirty-six native Cantonese speakers were presented with pairs of Chinese written words and performed a nonlinguistic oddball task. The second word of a pair was either a repetition of the first or a different word (alternation). In repetition blocks, 75% of trials were repetitions and 25% were alternations, whereas the reverse was true in alternation blocks. Topographic analysis of variance of EEG at each time point showed robust RS effects in three time windows (141–227 msec, 242–445 msec, and 467–513 msec) reflecting facilitation of visual word recognition. Importantly, the modulation of RS by expectation was observed at the late rather than early intervals (334–387 msec, 465–550 msec, and 559–632 msec) and more than 100 msec after the first RS effects. In the predictive coding view of RS, only late repetition effects are modulated by expectation, whereas early RS effects may be mediated by lower-level predictions. Taken together, our findings provide the first EEG evidence revealing distinct temporal dynamics of RS effects and repetition probability on RS effects in visual processing of Chinese words.

You do not currently have access to this content.