Using Serial and Discrete Digit Naming to Unravel Word Reading Processes.
ABSTRACT: During reading acquisition, word recognition is assumed to undergo a developmental shift from slow serial/sublexical processing of letter strings to fast parallel processing of whole word forms. This shift has been proposed to be detected by examining the size of the relationship between serial- and discrete-trial versions of word reading and rapid naming tasks. Specifically, a strong association between serial naming of symbols and single word reading suggests that words are processed serially, whereas a strong association between discrete naming of symbols and single word reading suggests that words are processed in parallel as wholes. In this study, 429 Grade 1, 3, and 5 English-speaking Canadian children were tested on serial and discrete digit naming and word reading. Across grades, single word reading was more strongly associated with discrete naming than with serial naming of digits, indicating that short high-frequency words are processed as whole units early in the development of reading ability in English. In contrast, serial naming was not a unique predictor of single word reading across grades, suggesting that within-word sequential processing was not required for the successful recognition for this set of words. Factor mixture analysis revealed that our participants could be clustered into two classes, namely beginning and more advanced readers. Serial naming uniquely predicted single word reading only among the first class of readers, indicating that novice readers rely on a serial strategy to decode words. Yet, a considerable proportion of Grade 1 students were assigned to the second class, evidently being able to process short high-frequency words as unitized symbols. We consider these findings together with those from previous studies to challenge the hypothesis of a binary distinction between serial/sublexical and parallel/lexical processing in word reading. We argue instead that sequential processing in word reading operates on a continuum, depending on the level of reading proficiency, the degree of orthographic transparency, and word-specific characteristics.
Project description:Reading is not only "cold" information processing, but involves affective and aesthetic processes that go far beyond what current models of word recognition, sentence processing, or text comprehension can explain. To investigate such "hot" reading processes, standardized instruments that quantify both psycholinguistic and emotional variables at the sublexical, lexical, inter-, and supralexical levels (e.g., phonological iconicity, word valence, arousal-span, or passage suspense) are necessary. One such instrument, the Berlin Affective Word List (BAWL) has been used in over 50 published studies demonstrating effects of lexical emotional variables on all relevant processing levels (experiential, behavioral, neuronal). In this paper, we first present new data from several BAWL studies. Together, these studies examine various views on affective effects in reading arising from dimensional (e.g., valence) and discrete emotion features (e.g., happiness), or embodied cognition features like smelling. Second, we extend our investigation of the complex issue of affective word processing to words characterized by a mixture of affects. These words entail positive and negative valence, and/or features making them beautiful or ugly. Finally, we discuss tentative neurocognitive models of affective word processing in the light of the present results, raising new issues for future studies.
Project description:Word identification is undeniably important for skilled reading and ultimately reading comprehension. Interestingly, both lexical and sublexical procedures can support word identification. Recent cross-linguistic comparisons have demonstrated that there are biases in orthographic coding (e.g., holistic vs. analytic) linked with differences in writing systems, such that holistic orthographic coding is correlated with lexical-level reading procedures and vice versa. The current study uses a measure of holistic visual processing used in the face processing literature, orientation sensitivity, to test individual differences in word identification within a native English population. Results revealed that greater orientation sensitivity (i.e., greater holistic processing) was associated with a reading profile that relies less on sublexical phonological measures and more on lexical-level characteristics within the skilled English readers. Parallels to Chinese procedures of reading and a proposed alternative route to skilled reading are discussed.
Project description:This study was aimed at predicting individual differences in text reading fluency. The basic proposal included two factors, i.e., the ability to decode letter strings (measured by discrete pseudo-word reading) and integration of the various sub-components involved in reading (measured by Rapid Automatized Naming, RAN). Subsequently, a third factor was added to the model, i.e., naming of discrete digits. In order to use homogeneous measures, all contributing variables considered the entire processing of the item, including pronunciation time. The model, which was based on commonality analysis, was applied to data from a group of 43 typically developing readers (11- to 13-year-olds) and a group of 25 chronologically matched dyslexic children. In typically developing readers, both orthographic decoding and integration of reading sub-components contributed significantly to the overall prediction of text reading fluency. The model prediction was higher (from ca. 37 to 52% of the explained variance) when we included the naming of discrete digits variable, which had a suppressive effect on pseudo-word reading. In the dyslexic readers, the variance explained by the two-factor model was high (69%) and did not change when the third factor was added. The lack of a suppression effect was likely due to the prominent individual differences in poor orthographic decoding of the dyslexic children. Analyses on data from both groups of children were replicated by using patches of colors as stimuli (both in the RAN task and in the discrete naming task) obtaining similar results. We conclude that it is possible to predict much of the variance in text-reading fluency using basic processes, such as orthographic decoding and integration of reading sub-components, even without taking into consideration higher-order linguistic factors such as lexical, semantic and contextual abilities. The approach validity of using proximal vs. distal causes to predict reading fluency is discussed.
Project description:Lexical retrieval and reading aloud are often viewed as two separate processes. However, they are not completely separate-they share components. This study assessed the effect of an impairment in a shared component, the phonological output lexicon, on lexical retrieval and on reading aloud. Because the phonological output lexicon is part of the lexical route for reading, individuals with an impairment in this lexicon may be forced to read aloud via the sublexical route and therefore show a reading pattern that is typical of surface dyslexia. To examine the effect of phonological output lexicon deficit on reading, we tested the reading of 16 Hebrew-speaking individuals with phonological output lexicon anomia, eight with acquired anomia following brain damage and eight with developmental anomia. We established that they had a phonological output lexicon deficit according to the types of errors and the effects on their naming in a picture naming task, and excluded other deficit loci in the lexical retrieval process according to a line of tests assessing their picture and word comprehension, word and non-word repetition, and phonological working memory. After we have established that the participants have a phonological output lexicon deficit, we tested their reading. To assess their reading and type of reading impairment, we tested their reading aloud, lexical decision, and written word comprehension. We found that all of the participants with phonological output lexicon impairment showed, in addition to anomia, also the typical surface dyslexia errors in reading aloud of irregular words, words with ambiguous conversion to phonemes, and potentiophones (words like "now" that, when read via the sublexical route, can be sounded out as another word, "know"). Importantly, the participants performed normally on pseudohomophone lexical decision and on homophone/potentiophone reading comprehension, indicating spared orthographic input lexicon and spared access to it and from it to lexical semantics. This pattern was shown both by the adults with acquired anomia and by the participants with developmental anomia. These results thus suggest a principled relation between anomia and dyslexia, and point to a distinct type of surface dyslexia. They further show the possibility of good comprehension of written words when the phonological output stages are impaired.
Project description:In reading, length effects (LEs) are defined as an increment in the time taken to read as a function of word length and may indicate whether reading is proceeding in an efficient whole word fashion or by serial letter processing. LEs are generally considered to be a pathognomonic symptom of developmental dyslexia (DD) and predominantly have been investigated in transparent orthographies where reading impairment is characterized as slow and effortful. In the present study a sample of 18 adult participants with DD were compared to a matched sample of typical developing readers to investigate whether the LE is a critical aspect of DD in an opaque orthography, English. We expected that the DD group would present with marked LEs, in both words and non-words, compared to typical developing readers. The presence of LEs in the DD group confirmed our prediction. These effects were particularly strong in low frequency words and in non-words, as observed in reading speed. These preliminary findings may have important theoretical implications for current understanding of DD.
Project description:Previous reports of improved oral reading performance for dyslexic children but not for regular readers when between-letter spacing was enlarged led to the proposal of a dyslexia-specific deficit in visual crowding. However, it is in this context also critical to understand how letter spacing affects visual word recognition and reading in unimpaired readers. Adopting an individual differences approach, the present study, accordingly, examined whether wider letter spacing improves reading performance also for non-impaired adults during silent reading and whether there is an association between letter spacing and crowding sensitivity. We report eye movement data of 24 German students who silently read texts presented either with normal or wider letter spacing. Foveal and parafoveal crowding sensitivity were estimated using two independent tests. Wider spacing reduced first fixation durations, gaze durations, and total fixation time for all participants, with slower readers showing stronger effects. However, wider letter spacing also reduced skipping probabilities and elicited more fixations, especially for faster readers. In terms of words read per minute, wider letter spacing did not provide a benefit, and faster readers in particular were slowed down. Neither foveal nor parafoveal crowding sensitivity correlated with the observed letter-spacing effects. In conclusion, wide letter spacing reduces single word processing time in typically developed readers during silent reading, but affects reading rates negatively since more words must be fixated. We tentatively propose that wider letter spacing reinforces serial letter processing in slower readers, but disrupts parallel processing of letter chunks in faster readers. These effects of letter spacing do not seem to be mediated by individual differences in crowding sensitivity.
Project description:Humans' propensity to acquire literacy relates to several factors, including the ability to understand speech in noise (SiN). Still, the nature of the relation between reading and SiN perception abilities remains poorly understood. Here, we dissect the interplay between (1) reading abilities, (2) classical behavioral predictors of reading (phonological awareness, phonological memory, and rapid automatized naming), and (3) electrophysiological markers of SiN perception in 99 elementary school children (26 with dyslexia). We demonstrate that, in typical readers, cortical representation of the phrasal content of SiN relates to the degree of development of the lexical (but not sublexical) reading strategy. In contrast, classical behavioral predictors of reading abilities and the ability to benefit from visual speech to represent the syllabic content of SiN account for global reading performance (i.e., speed and accuracy of lexical and sublexical reading). In individuals with dyslexia, we found preserved integration of visual speech information to optimize processing of syntactic information but not to sustain acoustic/phonemic processing. Finally, within children with dyslexia, measures of cortical representation of the phrasal content of SiN were negatively related to reading speed and positively related to the compromise between reading precision and reading speed, potentially owing to compensatory attentional mechanisms. These results clarify the nature of the relation between SiN perception and reading abilities in typical child readers and children with dyslexia and identify novel electrophysiological markers of emergent literacy.
Project description:It has been well documented that morphemic structure (roots and affixes) have an impact in reading, but effects seem to depend on the reading experience of readers and lexical characteristics of the stimuli. Specifically, it has been reported that morphemes constitute reading units for developing readers and children with dyslexia when they encounter a new word. In addition, recent studies have stated that the effect of morphology is also present in spelling, as morphological information facilitates spelling accuracy and influences handwriting times. The goal of this study was to investigate the role of morphology in reading and spelling fluency in Spanish children with dyslexia. For that purpose, a group of 24 children with dyslexia was compared with an age-matched group of 24 children without reading disabilities in performing a word naming task and a spelling-to-dictation task of isolated words. Morphological condition (high frequency base, low frequency base, simple) and lexicality (words vs. pseudowords) were manipulated. We considered, for the naming task, reading latencies, reading durations, reading critical segment (three first phonemes) durations and naming accuracy; and, for the spelling task, written latencies, writing durations for the whole word, writing critical segment (three first letters) durations and spelling accuracy. Results showed that Spanish children (with and without dyslexia) benefit from a high frequency base to initiate reading and writing responses, showing that they are familiar with the letter chunks that constitute a morpheme. In addition, base frequency impacts reading critical segment duration only for children with dyslexia, but for both groups in writing. In summary, children with dyslexia benefit from a high frequency base to read and spell unfamiliar stimuli.
Project description:A surprisingly small portion of reading research has been dedicated to investigating how the visual word recognition process is influenced by embedded words (e.g., 'arm' in 'charm'), and no research has yet investigated embedded words in a natural reading setting. Covering this issue, the present work reports analyses of eye-tracking data from the GECO bilingual book reading corpus. Word viewing times were analyzed as a function of the number, frequency and proportional length of embedded words. We anticipated two scenarios: embedded words would either facilitate processing due to increased word-letter feedback, or inhibit processing due to increased lexical competition. A main facilitatory effect of embedded words on the recognition process was established, with an increasing number of embedded words resulting in shorter word viewing times and fewer fixations. This pattern was depicted by readers of Dutch as well as readers of English. Long, high-frequency embedded words formed an exception however, as these led to inhibition (Dutch participants) or a null-effect (English participants). The present results indicate that both scenarios outlined above are at play, but with a theoretical constraint on the role of word-to-word inhibitory connections. Specifically, such connections may predominantly exist among words of similar length. Hence, embedded words generally facilitate processing through word-letter feedback, but this facilitatory effect is countered by word-to-word inhibition if the embedded word's length approximates that of its superset.
Project description:Behavioral and imaging studies in alphabetic languages have shown that morphological processing is a discrete and independent element of lexical access. However, there is no explicit marker of morphological structure in Chinese complex words, such that the extent to which morpheme meaning is related to word meaning is unknown. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were used in the present study to investigate the dissociation of morphemic and whole-word meaning in an auditory-auditory primed lexical decision task. All the prime and target words are compounds consisting of two Chinese morphemes. The relationship between morpheme and whole-word meaning was manipulated while controlling the phonology and orthography of the first syllable in each prime-target pair. A clear dissociation was found between morphemic and whole-word meaning on N400 amplitude and topography. Specifically, sharing a morpheme produced a larger N400 in the anterior-central electrode sites, while sharing whole-word meaning produced a smaller N400 in central-posterior electrode sites. In addition, the morphological N400 effect was negatively correlated with the participants' reading ability, with better readers needing less orthographic information to distinguish different morphemes in compound words. These findings indicate that morphological and whole-word meaning are dissociated in spoken Chinese compound word recognition and that even in the spoken language modality, good readers are better able to access the meaning of individual morphemes in Chinese compound word processing.