Phonological activation of word meanings in grade 5 readers

Debra Jared, Jane Ashby, Stephen J. Agauas, Betty Ann Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Three experiments examined the role of phonology in the activation of word meanings in Grade 5 students. In Experiment 1, homophone and spelling control errors were embedded in a story context and participants performed a proofreading task as they read for meaning. For both good and poor readers, more homophone errors went undetected than spelling control errors. In Experiments 2 and 3, homophone and spelling control errors were in sentence contexts. Experiment 2 used an online sentence verification task, and found that both good and poor readers were less accurate when sentences contained a homophone error than a spelling control error. Furthermore, a difference between the 2 types of sentences was observed even when participants were concurrently performing an articulation task. In Experiment 3, initial reading times were shorter on homophone errors than on spelling controls, and participants were less likely to make a regression from homophone errors than spelling controls. These experiments provide clear evidence that phonology makes an important contribution to the activation of word meanings in Grade 5 readers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-541
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Eye tracking
  • Grade 5 children
  • Phonology
  • Sentence verification
  • Word recognition


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