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The effects of reading-writing direction on the asymmetry of space perception and directional tendencies: A comparison between French and Tunisian children

Compared the influence of reading/writing habits on the asymmetry of space perception and the directional tendencies of French and Tunisian right-handers, aged 5, 7, and 9 yrs. By comparing 2 groups of children who use the opposite direction for writing (from left to right for French, from right to left for Arabic), before and after being taught to read in school, the authors evaluated the impact of writing direction on these asymmetries. On a bisection task, a group difference emerged at 9 yrs, with the French children bisecting the line to the left of the true center, and the Tunisian children showing no bias. On a circle-drawing task, there was a group difference from 7 yrs on, as only the French children used increasing counterclockwise movements. Finally, on a dot-filling task performed with the right hand, the French children filled in significantly more dots when going from left to right from 7 yrs on, whereas Tunisian children filled in more dots when going from right to left. These results show the impact of basic tendencies in younger children (ipsilateral bias in line bisection, clockwise direction in circle drawing, outward tendency for horizontal displacement in dot filling), as well as the impact of writing direction on spatial asymmetries after learning to read. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2003 APA, all rights reserved)