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How long is long? Word length effects in reading correspond to minimal graphemic units: An MEG study in Bangla.

This paper presents a magnetoencephalography (MEG) study on reading in Bangla, an east Indo-Aryan language predominantly written in an abugida script. The study aims to uncover how visual stimuli are processed and mapped onto abstract linguistic representations in the brain. Specifically, we investigate the neural responses that correspond to word length in Bangla, a language with a unique orthography that introduces multiple ways to measure word length. Our results show that MEG signals localised in the anterior left fusiform gyrus, at around 130ms, are highly correlated with word length when measured in terms of the number of minimal graphemic units in the word rather than independent graphemic units (akśar) or phonemes. Our findings suggest that minimal graphemic units could serve as a suitable metric for measuring word length in non-alphabetic orthographies such as Bangla.

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