Letter Processing in Upright Bigrams Predicts Reading Fluency Variations in Children

JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL(2022)

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摘要
Fluent reading is an important milestone in education, but we lack a clear understanding of why children vary so widely in attaining it. Language-related factors such as rapid automatized naming (RAN) and phonological awareness have been identified as important factors that explain reading fluency. However, whether any aspects of visual orthographic processing also explain reading fluency beyond phonology is unclear. To investigate these issues, we tested primary school children (n = 68) on four tasks: two reading fluency tasks (word reading and passage reading), a RAN task to measure naming speed, and a visual search task using letters and bigrams. Bigram processing in visual search was accurately explained by single-letter discrimination, and error patterns were unrelated to fluency or bigram frequency, ruling out the contribution of specialized bigram detectors. As expected, the RAN score was strongly correlated with reading fluency. Importantly, there was a highly specific association between reading fluency and upright bigram processing in visual search. This association was specific to upright but not inverted bigrams and to bigrams with normal but not large letter spacing. It was explained by increased letter discrimination across bigrams and reduced interactions between letters within bigrams. Thus, fluent reading is accompanied by specialized changes in letter processing within bigrams.
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关键词
visual search, reading and language, orthographic processing, rapid naming
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