The influence of consistency, frequency, and semantics on learning to read:an artificial orthography paradigm


Two experiments explored learning, generalization, and the influence of semantics on orthographic processing in an artificial language. In Experiment 1, 16 adults learned to read 36 novel words written in novel characters. Posttraining, participants discriminated trained from untrained items and generalized to novel items, demonstrating extraction of individual character sounds. Frequency and consistency effects in learning and generalization showed that participants were sensitive to the statistics of their learning environment. In Experiment 2, 32 participants were preexposed to the sounds of all items (lexical phonology) and to novel definitions for half of these items (semantics). Preexposure to either lexical phonology or semantics boosted the early stages of orthographic learning relative to Experiment 1. By the end of training, facilitation was restricted to the semantic condition and to items containing low-frequency inconsistent vowels. Preexposure reduced generalization, suggesting that enhanced item-specific learning was achieved at the expense of character-sound abstraction. The authors' novel paradigm provides a new tool to explore orthographic learning. Although the present findings support the idea that semantic knowledge supports word reading processes, they also suggest that item-specific phonological knowledge is important in the early stages of learning to read.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2011. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: artificial orthography,lexical phonology,reading,semantics,statistical learning,Language and Linguistics,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,Linguistics and Language
Publication ISSN: 1939-1285
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 08:24
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 15:35
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2011-01-31
Authors: Taylor, J.S.H. (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1109-8539)
Plunkett, Kim
Nation, Kate



Version: Accepted Version

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