Reading text with and without diacritics alters brain activation: The case of Arabic

Hosam Al-Samarraie, Samer Muthana Sarsam, Ahmed Ibrahim Alzahrani, Nasser Alalwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
118 Downloads (Pure)


Diacritics in Arabic are optional orthographic symbols used to alter the pronunciation of a letter or distinguish between words of similar spellings, which may add or subtract complexity by imposing additional loads on the individual’s information-processing system. In this study, we explored how reading Arabic text with and without diacritical signs (known as ḥarakāt) can influence readers’ brain activation. An electroencephalogram (EEG) recording of 18 subjects was used in this study to assess the differences in brain activation while reading in two reading conditions (with and without ḥarakāt). The results showed that ḥarakāt had a significant impact on the cognitive responses of subjects as exemplified by differences in cortical activity between the conditions. Our results imply promising results in the application of reading skills where diacritical marks may play a key role in increasing the level of attention an individual pays to text, thus improving information-processing accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1198
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Arabic text
  • Diacritics
  • Information-processing accuracy
  • Reading skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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