Prosodic Phonological Representations Early in Visual Word Recognition

Jane Ashby, Andrea E. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two experiments examined the nature of the phonological representations used during visual word recognition. We tested whether a minimality constraint (R. Frost, 1998) limits the complexity of early representations to a simple string of phonemes. Alternatively, readers might activate elaborated representations that include prosodic syllable information before lexical access. In a modified lexical decision task (Experiment 1), words were preceded by parafoveal previews that were congruent with a target's initial syllable as well as previews that contained 1 letter more or less than the initial syllable. Lexical decision times were faster in the syllable congruent conditions than in the incongruent conditions. In Experiment 2, we recorded brain electrical potentials (electroencephalograms) during single word reading in a masked priming paradigm. The event-related potential waveform elicited in the syllable congruent condition was more positive 250-350 ms posttarget compared with the waveform elicited in the syllable incongruent condition. In combination, these experiments demonstrate that readers process prosodic syllable information early in visual word recognition in English. They offer further evidence that skilled readers routinely activate elaborated, speechlike phonological representations during silent reading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Keywords

  • minimality
  • phonology
  • reading
  • syllables
  • word recognition

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