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SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF READING, 11(A), 357-383 Copyright © 2007, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Reading Ability: Lexical Quality to Comprehension
Charles Perfetti
University of Pittsburgh

The lexical quality hypothesis (LQH) claims that variation in the quality of word representations has consequences for reading skill, including comprehension. High lexical quality includes well-specified and partly redundant representations of form (orthography and phonology) and flexible representations of meaning, allowing for rapid and reliable meaning retrieval. Low-quality representations lead to specific word-related problems in comprehension. Six lines of research on adult readers demonstrate some of the implications of the LQH. First, large-scale correlational results show the general interdependence of comprehension and lexical skill while identifying disassociations that allow focus on comprehension-specific skill. Second, word-level semantic processing studies show comprehension skill differences in the time course of form-meaning confusions. Studies of rare vocabulary learning using event-related potentials (ERPs) show that, third, skilled comprehenders learn new words more effectively and show stronger ERP indicators for memory of the word learning event and, fourth, suggest skill differences in the stability of orthographic representations. Fifth, ERP markers show comprehension skill differences in meaning processing of ordinary words. Finally, in text reading, ERP results demonstrate momentary difficulties for low-skill comprehenders in integrating a word with the prior text. The studies provide evidence that word-level knowledge has consequences for word meaning processes in comprehension. In reading, the singular recurring cognitive activity is the identification of words. From this follow two other, related observations about reading: Comprehension depends on successful word reading. Skill differences in comprehension can arise from skill differences in word reading. These simple observations form the core of a theory of comprehension skill published over 20 years ago (Perfetti, 1985). Verbal efficiency theory claimed that Correspondence should be sent to Charles Perfetti, LRDC, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. E-mail:



word identification, the rapid retrieval of a word's phonology and meaning, was a limiting factor in comprehension. I referred to these cognitive events of word identification as "retrievals" because they operated on information about a word stored in a reader's orthographically addressable memory. But at the heart of word identification were the phonological procedures that allowed a word (or a nonword) to be decoded, whether or not meaning was also retrieved. The theory assumed the ability to decode nonwords was the hallmark of basic alphabetic reading skill. In fact, phonology was important enough in this account that it had redundant participation. Phonology was both stored as part of the word (and thus retrieved during identification) and generated by connections among subword units that were part of the word. This conceptualization was explicit in the Restricted Interactive Model, which focused on the development with experience of specific and redundant sublexical components suggested in Perfetti (1992). In the theory, the link from word-level reading to comprehension was through the assumption that comprehension included higher level processes that required cognitive resources (working memory), for example, integrative processes, inferences, syntactic repairs. Word identification, and certainly the sublexical processes that produce it, were candidates for low-resource or automatic processes (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974) that could preserve processing resources for higher level comprehension. Automatic, resource-cheap word-level processes—verbal efficiency —were assumed to support comprehension. Children who have this efficiency would be able to achieve high levels of comprehension, and children with inefficient word-level processes would have problems with comprehension. The research showing correlations between children's decoding skill and comprehension was consistent with this account. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that this relationship disappears for older readers (Shankweiler et al., 1999). This general account continues to seem correct to me. However, I think its emphasis on completely general processes—decoding, phonological processes, retrieval, memory, automaticity—although theoretically consistent, seemed to leave knowledge out of the picture. Skilled reading was about efficient processing mechanisms and less skilled reading was about these same mechanisms executed inefficiently. This description seemed to predict that becoming faster at word identification leads to better comprehension. Inefficient readers can indeed become more efficient (Breznitz & Share, 1992), and improving individual word reading speed may increase fluency (Martin-Chang & Levy, 2005) and, under some circumstances, comprehension (Breznitz & Share, 1992; Tan & Nicholson, 1997). However, increasing decoding speed by itself has not always increased comprehension (Fleisher, Jenkins, & Pany, 1979; Perfetti, 1985). Overall, although the hypothesis that training word-reading speed raises comprehension has some research support, it is not the primary practical implication of the general idea that comprehension depends on efficient word reading.



Efficiency is not the same as speed. Efficiency is a ratio of outcome to effort, with time as a proxy for effort. So although processing descriptions make a coherent framework for efficiency, they leave out the basic nature and source of the word reading outcomes on which efficiency depends. These outcomes are word identities that momentarily represent form and meaning components that are the basic elements of comprehension. On this description, the thing to understand is not speed but rather the ability to retrieve word identities that provide the meanings the reader needs in a given context. This source of this ability is the knowledge a reader has about words, specific lexical representations.

LEXICAL QUALITY Underlying efficient processes are knowledge components; knowledge about word forms (grammatical class, spellings and pronunciations) and meanings. Add effective practice (reading experience) of these knowledge components, and the result is efficiency: the rapid, low-resource retrieval of a word identity. Lexical quality (LQ) refers to the extent to which the reader's knowledge of a given word represents the word's form and meaning constituents and knowledge of word use that combines meaning with pragmatic features. Thus the vocabulary of a given language includes, for a given reader, words of widely varying LQ, from rare words never encountered to frequently encountered and well-known words. Likewise, individual readers differ in the average LQ of their words. This reader variability is not just about the size of vocabulary, although it includes this; it is about the representation of words, the stable and less stable knowledge the reader has about the word's form and meaning. Of course, the question becomes what is "quality," a word that could evoke suspicion without some definition. Quality is the extent to which a mental representation of a word specifies its form and meaning components in a way that is both precise and flexible. The precision is needed because "pretty and petty" and "knight and night" are not the same. The flexibility is needed because the meanings of "roaming charge" and "a fee charged by a mobile phone service for calls initiated or received outside a contracted service area" are the same. Both precision and flexibility are needed to understand and pronounce record in "You need a record of the transaction" and "They can't record the conversation." These simple examples are just the tip of the iceberg of form-meaning complexities. LQ provides a means for safe passage through them. Earlier chapters (Perfetti & Hart, 2001, 2002) contain additional examples and theoretical discussions of LQ. One way to become more specific about LQ is to identify the features that we hypothesize to distinguish higher quality from lower quality representations. Table 1 does this. It identifies five features of lexical representation that distinguish high and low quality and shows three (there may be more) hypothesized consequences of

morpho-syntax. morpho-syntactic inflections represented Meaning More generalized. phonological. word identity is reliably retrieved from an orthographic or phonological input Word identity constituents are activated and retrieved in synchrony as a word identity Synchronicity Meaning integration Higher. the degree to which the first four features are bound together (especially the first three. and meaning. and semantic representations. which together are the word's identity. fuller range of meaning dimensions to discriminate among words in same semantic field. comprehension processes that operate over word identities at risk these quality features for reading processes. The binding feature is not independent but rather a . the grammatical feature might be considered to be implemented by a grammatical process that operates on the lexeme).360 PERFETTI TABLE 1 Properties and Consequences of Lexical Quality Representational Properties of Lexicon Orthography High Quality Low Quality Not fully specified. phonology. phonological. the orthographic. less stable morpho-syntax More context bound. Bindings are connections that secure coherence among the constituents. Constituent binding Orthographic. some letters are variables Less stable because of variable word-specific phonology and/ or grapheme-phoneme phonology Incomplete range of form class uses. The fifth representation feature is constituent binding. labored decoding. phonological. and semantic constituents are Possible processing consequences tightly bound during reading Stability Higher. The representational features are the four constituents of word identity—orthography. (e. activation of incorrect meanings from partial input) Lower. fewer relevant meaning dimensions to discriminate among related words Orthographic. and semantic constituents are less tightly bound Fully specified. letters are constants Redundant word-specific Phonology phonology and context-sensitive grapheme-phoneme phonology Grammar All grammatical classes of the word represented. word identities available for building comprehension Lower. word identity is sometimes not retrieved from an orthographic or phonological input Word constituents may be activated and retrieved asynchronously. less context-bound.g.

One final observation concerns the difference between a spoken and written word. In general.LEXICAL QUALITY 361 consequence of the orthographic. required two form . For example. and decoding could be represented reasonably well by a single word form factor with a second factor reflecting meaning and comprehension. and some have at least indirect evidence. 2001). AND COMPREHENSION STUDIES With this background on the general nature of the LQ hypothesis (LQH) and its links to the process-oriented account of verbal efficiency. The general description of this link is that local processes of integrating word meanings within and across sentence boundaries are affected by the LQ of words that are identified as part of the comprehension process. My focus is on reading. Although these are studies of adult reading. WORD LEARNING. However. phonology. a lexical analysis can be applied to just spoken language with a focus on phonological representations and meaning. 1985) and adults (Haenggi & Perfetti. who found that ERP indicators of orthography and phonology for low-skill reading were more asynchronous than those of skilled readers. phonological and semantic constituents becoming well specified in association with another constituent. the hypothesis that low LQ can lead to the asynchronous activation of word constituents is consistent with results of Breznitz and Misra (2003). less skilled readers. Positive correlations between word-processing measures of various kinds and reading comprehension assessments are well established in both children (Perfetti. providing the important hypothesized link between LQ and comprehension (Perfetti & Hart. The consequences of high quality in sublexical and lexical knowledge are also shown in Table 1. we are interested in knowing the associates of reading comprehension skill and in the outcomes of experiments that related specific reading processes to these measures. WORD PROCESSING. More generally. I turn now to a review of some studies of reading that bear on the LQH. leaving plenty of room for disassociation between the two. The Structure of Lexical and Comprehension Skill in Reading Lexical knowledge and comprehension should be associated. I believe their conclusions apply also to children's reading. and for that orthography is part of LQ. and they are. More interesting is the fact that this correlation is generally in the moderate range. Perfetti and Hart (2002) reported some results of factor analysis on a sample of 445 individuals from this database. These are hypothesized consequences that are subject to empirical testing. However. They concluded that skilled readers' knowledge of spelling. in addition to a meaning factor. We've maintained a large database of college students for whom we take various reading and reading-related measures. 1994). reading words in context is affected by LQ.

18% were below the median in comprehension but at or above the median on lexical measures. In her experiments with a carefully defined subset of this sample. 23% in Landi's sample) of college students whose comprehension levels undershoot the level expected by lexical skills identifies a group for whom hypotheses about other sources of comprehension problems can be meaningfully tested. It also predicted resistance from interference by homophones that were planted in the new language. so the low-comprehension/high lexical pattern is more prominent than the high-comprehension/low-lexical pattern. However. the reverse pattern. among those who could be most confidently classified. with both comprehension and lexical knowledge predicting various measures of performance with the novel language during learning and in postlearning transfer. The approximately 20% (18% in Hart's sample. based on partly different tasks. although a careless reading of verbal efficiency theory might have led some to believe that the theory assumed there was nothing to comprehension beyond efficient word reading. and at least a few of them seem to have controlled adequately for word-level skills. The idea that lexical processes are not sufficient for comprehension should not be controversial. In this normalized analysis. Hart asked whether certain aspects of learning an artificial language might depend more on first-language lexical knowledge compared with first-language comprehension skill. concluding that. including its novel orthography and its decoding mappings. which she then used to weight normalize individual participant scores on each test. Studies by Oakhill and colleagues (Cain & Oakhill. Since then two dissertations have assessed large samples from this database. replicating a result reported in Perfetti and Hart (2001) for English. Landi's study was carried out 2 years later on a different sample of 799 students and used an overlapping but partly distinct set of tasks. 23% were below the median on the comprehension component but above the median on the lexical component. as assessed by the Nelson-Denny comprehension test. Both Hart and Landi were interested in the disassociation of word-level skill from comprehension skill. . Figure 1 shows a scatter plot of these scores. lexical knowledge. 1999. suggesting less coherence of word identities. Landi's factor analysis of five tasks yielded a comprehension component and a lexical component. Hart analyzed the scores of 792 students. 64% showed the more typical association pattern of lexical and comprehension scores both high or both low. Observations to the contrary have long been in the literature. one by Hart (2005) and a later one by Landi (2005). was observed for 9% of the sample.362 PERFETTI factors—one loaded with more phonological tasks and the other with more orthographic tasks. Lexical knowledge is not sufficient for comprehension. high comprehension but low lexical components. This asymmetry is the pattern one would expect (but might not find based on median splits of test scores). Her results showed a complex pattern. more than comprehension. predicted the learning of this artificial language.

Cain. 1998. allows for several interpretations of semantic deficits. & Bryant. see Nation. and the Author Recognition Test) that weighted differentially on the two components.2 . and Perfetti.1 0 12 3 Comprehension Component FIGURE 1 Scatter plot of normalized component scores from principal components analysis of reading test scores from a sample of 799 college students. 2006. & Oakhill.1999). In this procedure. More generally. based on Landi's (2005) dissertation. is the hypothesis that children with adequate decoding and phonological-level skills can have word-level semantic problems that affect comprehension. which I only briefly review here. which has some evidence in studies of children. including a problem with semantic categories. This is the basis for experiments reported in Perfetti and Hart (2001). For now. 1996). 2003) seem to show that some children have trouble drawing inferences during comprehension. Thus. The key idea is that for a word like wails. comprehension. Another candidate for comprehension problems. despite having good decoding skills. 2005). comprehension problems can arise from general language comprehension problems even when word decoding appears to be adequate (Stodhard & Hulme. the plot is a factor-weighted composite of five tests (decoding. spelling. the Landi and Hart studies extend to the adult population the observation that decoding is not sufficient for comprehension. . Studies of Form-Meaning Confusions One way to study the effects of LQ on comprehension is to experimentally create threats to quality.LEXICAL QUALITY 363 3 2 1 Lexical Component ° -1 -2 "3 . normalized Z scores for each test for each participant were multiplied by the factor score for that test determined from the Principle Components Analysis. Landi. Oakhill. (For reviews. This semantic deficit hypothesis (Nation & Snowling. vocabulary. closer to the idea of LQ.

However. and they showed less homophone confusion when the presented (confusable) form was the one of higher frequency {whales-cries rather than wails-dolphins). readers were provided with experience on the member of a homophone pair that was judged to be less familiar. because it retrieves its meaning and pronunciation rapidly as a stable. hare was rated lower. have higher quality representations. and this effect occurred at shorter latencies than it did for less skilled comprehenders. it occurs within 150 ms of exposure to the homophone. so it was the training word. The application of this to reading skill is that LQ depends on experience with words. even if there is momentary activation of both the presented word and its homophone (Gernsbacher & Faust. so it was the one participants experienced in training. they should retrieve wail associates. unique word identity. A skilled comprehender has . so as to make it more familiar than its mate. knight-evening produced interference for skilled comprehenders. and this emerged very rapidly. defined by comprehension assessment. Skilled comprehenders showed faster-meaning decisions for both control pairs and homophones. not whale associates. The result of the training. For example. Some trials contained homophones of words that would have been related. which in turn depend on reading experience. in the pair night-knight.364 PERFETTI the quality of its identity. in hair-hare. knight was rated lower in familiarity. readers decided whether two words presented in succession were semantically related. whereas for less skilled comprehenders the interference effect did not emerge until 450 msec. In terms of the examples. skilled comprehenders show less interference based on form. This frequency effect in homophone confusions appears to be dependent on word experience. pronunciation. In a study reported in Hart and Perfetti (in press). suggesting an early activation of word phonology. they did show confusions when presented with a form of low frequency. and when they show interference. 1991). So how do readers of higher and level skill handle this kind of threat? Our hypothesis was that better readers. which entails its spelling. So night-armor did not produce confusion (in the form of longer decision times) for skilled comprehenders. An infrequent form is less protected because it is more likely to retrieve an unstable identity based on shared phonology with the more frequent form. In the meaning task reported in Perfetti and Hart (2001). which shares its pronunciation. at a Stimulus Onset Asynchrony of 150 msec. and meaning. training on knight caused semantic decisions on knight-evening to produce less interference than semantic decisions on night-armor. as when wails was followed by dolphins. Thus. So form-based confusions depend on the relative frequencies of competing forms. similarly. so given wail. However. A highly frequent form is relatively protected from interference. was the reversal of the frequency effect in homophone interference. although it did for less skilled comprehenders. is threatened by the existence of whales. which consisted of visual exposures to the word associated with meaning.

To assure that the words we would 'Gemsbacher and Faust (1991. agog. this does not matter for the skill conclusion. Although recency effects can be disguised as frequency effects. and this has important implications. Learning the Meanings of New Words Given the implication that LQ is acquired through effective experience with words. If we assume that a given word has been read more frequently by a skilled reader than a less skilled reader. a given difference in frequency between two words may have a large effect on measures of speed of processing. it does not mean that all experiences with words are equal. clement. flexion. More reading leads. In a pretest lexical decision task. to more frequent and more recent encounters and both may have this nonlinear effect on word-reading efficiency. Differences between their mechanism-based account and the knowledge-based account of the LQH are discussed further in Perfetti and Hart (2001). then it follows that the skill differences we observe in processing that word reflect this frequency of experience difference. we have used both behavioral and ERP measures. and Hart (2005) taught the meanings of very rare words to undergraduates and then tested the effects of this learning in a simple meaning judgment task while recording electroencephalograms (EEGs). In this research.1 The relationship between word frequency estimates and various word-processing tasks is nonlinear. in high frequency ranges. statistically. we might be able to observe the acquisition of LQ during word learning. in the next section. Furthermore. . we can examine the link between LQ and comprehension in a situation that controls the word experiences. bastion. by comparing the learning of readers who differ in comprehension skill. I review a study that suggests that skilled comprehenders make better use of their experiences with words they are trying to learn. Wlotko. tiglon. that same frequency difference has a smaller effect. our rare words were judged to be real words only at a rate of 8% on average. In low frequency ranges. the difference in exposures seems to have an effect only for low-frequency words. consistent with assumption that it is the low-frequency range where increments in frequency are most important. generally logarithmic. In fact. ibex. Perfetti. This may reflect the importance of some minimum number of exposures for a word to be identified with low effort. Skill differences in word-reading experiments are usually greater for low-frequency words than high-frequency words. Although this statistical perspective is important. However. also Gernsbacher. and quisling. 1990) explained less skilled readers' problems in meaning processing as due to problems in suppressing irrelevant meanings that are activated by a word.LEXICAL QUALITY 365 had more experience with a given word than has a less skilled reader. Examples of the words taught include the following: gloaming.

In the meaning judgment task. Wlotko. The conditions show a similai. the to-be-learned words were individually tailored for each participant according to the pretest. EEGs were recorded continuously during these judgments. so we obtained ERP indicators associated with viewing the first word (gloaming) and its meaning mate (twilight). The results of the ERP analysis. This reflects an early "notice" FIGURE 2 Comprehension skill differences in word meaning judgments following learning of rare words. replaced by the second word that was related in meaning on 50% of trials.pattern for the first 200 msec or so. reflecting visual orthographic processes shared by all words. Skilled comprehenders showed higher accuracy in judging meaning relations for trained rare words but not for untrained rare words or familiar (known) words. and Hart (2005). Based on Perfetti. Figure 2 shows the behavioral results obtained during the posttraining meaning judgments task.366 PERFETTI train and then test were unknown. the conclusion is that the higher comprehenders actually learned the new words better. Instead. . the first word appeared for 1 sec and then disappeared. the trained words. which are shown in Figure 3 for the group of skilled comprehenders. untrained rare words. and familiar words were presented for meaning judgments. should get a yes response. The first point of separation occurs at 200 msec. For example. gloaming followed by twilight. Following simple association instruction (50 min in which the rare words were paired with brief definition-like paraphrases). The thing to notice is that skilled comprehenders were correct significantly more often than less skilled comprehenders in meaning judgments made to the rare words that we taught them but not to either untrained rare words or familiar words (also not trained). add to this picture. Plotted are the grand average waveforms at one electrode (the central reference electrode) for each condition for meaning-related trials. The lack of a skill difference for untrained rare words shows that overall knowledge of rare words was not different across the two groups. where trained words separate from both untrained and familiar words in a negative going shift.

The grand average waveform is shown for the reference electrode (Cz). . Rugg. & Hart (2005) for fuller skill comparisons. the brain responds to this word as familiar because the word has been part of the previous hour's training.LEXICAL QUALITY 367 Cz (129) FIGURE 3 An event-related potential (ERP) record for skilled comprehenders during a meaning judgment. less skilled comprehenders (not shown) show weaker episodic effects at 550 msec and weaker N400 meaning effects for the second related word. 1999. untrained familiar (known) words (intermediate darkness). a reduction in the N400 is observed for trained and familiar words. A second separation at around 550 msec. A word that has gained its familiarity through experiences prior to the experiment (the familiar words) shows no such effect. The implication of this is that we have identified a marker of familiarity-based learning that is expressed when a reader views a word. further distinguishes trained words from the other two classes. now in a positive going shift. which does mark word identity. For the trained words. and untrained rare words (lightest line). This ERP shift marks recognition of the episodic memory laid down by the training event: In effect. The three curves represent ERP records for trained rare words (darkest line). 1995). of words that had been recently viewed in training. The onset of the second word is exemplified for the related word twilight. based on preidentity sublexical patterns. The onset of the first word is exemplified for the trained rare word gloaming. This shift is the same in key respects (distribution and polarity) as the P600 that is observed in memory studies when a previously viewed item is presented (Curran. Two significant effects of training are visible. See Perfetti. at 200 msec and about 550 msec. Wlotko. About 400 msec after the onset of a related word. the latter representing word-level episodic memory for the trained word.

if gloaming had been learned. Although we chose words uhat were individually . We must conclude that after less than 50 min spent learning the meanings of 60 rare words whose meanings were unknown prior to the study. on average. Especially interesting is the fact that this difference was seen in ERPs recorded during the brief period in which the word was being viewed. Thus. there was no particular congruence provided by the word twilight. Recognizing a "gloaming" word-episode may involve retrieving its meaning. twilight. this is that word gloaming that I just experienced a few minutes ago. was not different for the two skill groups. The more direct test of a meaning process is in the response to the second word. as well as one for familiar words. a word that had been learned just prior to the experiment made less of an impression on the less skilled readers. reflecting the fact that if a participant had not experienced gloaming in training. the 200-msec negativity for trained words. the ERP effect was different for skilled and less skilled comprehenders. As shown in Figure 3. should produce a reduced N400. twilight. It is interesting that the first effect of training. then the N400 should be reduced. prior to the appearance of a second word. Once again. If our interpretation of these two components is correct—that the 200 msec is based on sublexical familiarity whereas the 550-msec effect is based on lexical identity—then we conclude that all learners respond to the distinctive letter pattern of a recently trained word.368 PERFETTI So now the question is whether this word-level episodic memory effect is observed equally in our skilled and less skilled comprehenders. Less skilled readers showed the same Figure 3 pattern of ERP shifts during the meaning judgments. Although both groups showed a reduction of the N400 when the second word was related in meaning to the first word. When a word is congruent with its preceding context. However. the episodic marker on the first word indicated a stronger association between the word and its training. skilled comprehenders made more effective use of the learning period. The N400 on the second word reflected the stronger learning of the meaning by skilled comprehenders. is visible in Figure 3. but it may not. If the participant has learned the meaning of gloaming. an N400 appeared for the untrained words. then the second word. this N400 for less skilled comprehenders was significantly less reduced for trained words compared with the reduction for skilled readers. a large negative going shift when a word is incongruent with its preceding context. and this reduction. The answer is no. the key marker of episodic memory at 550 msec (the P600 training effect) was significantly reduced in amplitude for the less skilled comprehenders. However. This N400 reduction is what happened when gloaming was followed by twilight—provided the meaning of gloaming was learned. One might argue with the interpretation that these are learning effects as opposed to subtle experience effects. but they differ in recognizing the word episode—for example. the N400 is reduced. which is closely related in meaning. The N400 is a signature for semantic congruence.

very rare word. The foils varied systematically in their orthographic and phonological overlap with the correct form. 2006). Readers high in comprehension skill showed better meaning decision performance than low-skill comprehenders on words learned in her artificial language.LEXICAL QUALITY 369 tailored to be unknown for a given participant. (This means substantial phonemic overlap even among low overlap foils. An unusual feature of this study is the use of multisyllabic words. perhaps that procedure underestimated very slight familiarity differences that favored the more skilled and more experienced readers. we did not find differences in the untrained words. participants also made lexical decisions. learners encounter either one of the spellings shown in Table 2 or the correct form of the word hebetude. similar forms should produce less interference.2 Orthographically similar foils (two left columns of Table 2) had high spelling overlap with the target. In a study that used rare-word learning to examine form stability during learning (Yang & Perfetti. skilled and less skilled comprehenders learned the meanings of 42 rare words over four mini-training "sessions" in the course of a single day. July 2007). Furthermore. Acquiring Lexical Form Stability As indicated in Table 1. If skilled readers had some unmeasured familiarity with the trained words prior to the study. 1992). 2004.) High phonemic overlap in this case was carried by 2 According to World Wide Words (Quinion. For one thing. Table 2 illustrates what the learners were up against. hebetude. the interpretation that we have a difference in the ability to learn word meanings is consistent with the results of Hart's (2005) dissertation. This seems unlikely. This manipulation allowed tests of the learners' form stability. the orthographic foils for hebetude all share both graphemes and phonemes for the first of the three on January 24. one of the features of LQ is a stable lexical representation. High-quality representations are fully specified (Perfetti. which required some flexibility in creating foils. After each session. But the behavioral and ERP results both say they did not." It was also the "word of the day" on Dictionary. Stability occurs as letters and phoneme constituents become specifiable as constants (fully specified) rather than variables in the word representation. an August 2001 column in The Washington Post observed that "Too many Americans slouch toward a terminal funk of hebetude and sloth. Control foils shared only an initial letter with the target. In the midst of trying to learn the meaning of the new. If learners acquire well-specified representations of the word they were learning. deciding whether the presented form is the correct form. . choosing whether a given letter string was the correct form of a word they were learning. which were from the same population of pretested rare words. and some of these also had very high phonemic overlap. then they should have the same unmeasured familiarity for the untrained words. As Table 2 shows.

This result converges with that of Meaning Accuracy Each Session 100% j—r -----------. Skilled comprehenders learned more than less skilled comprehenders from the first session. Each of the four sessions of meaning learning was followed by the form task (lexical decision).— -----------------95% -90% 85% -80% 75% S1 S4 S2 S3 S4 S1 S2 Lskilled S3 Skilled Skill and Session FIGURE 4 Increase in rare word learning over four learning "sessions" (all within one day). Of interest are results of both form and meaning learning. vowels can migrate toward a minimal vowel.370 PERFETTI TABLE 2 Foils for the Rare Word Hebetude High Orthographic Overlap Higher Phonological Overlap hebitude hebatude hebutude hebotude Lower Phonological Overlap hebetide hebetade hebetede hebetode Control: First Letter Only hodilane harisade higifore hudufise identical first and third syllables (left column). which could be repeated at the learner's option. The meaning part of the study involved viewing the word and hearing a spoken definition. The meaning results are shown in Figure 4. We explained to participants that learning the meanings of rare words like hebetude was the goal. and their advantage remained constant over the four sessions. The four high overlap foils differed only on the vowel letter of the second unstressed syllable. followed by a test of meaning in which the word was spoken. Because the syllable is unstressed. One could conceivably pronounce all the second syllable vowels as unstressed uh. . Skilled comprehenders learned more during the first session and maintained this slight advantage.

Hit rates for real rare words (e. After one session of learning.. hebetade. & Hart (2005) in finding that skilled comprehenders learn the meanings of new words more effectively than less skilled comprehenders. was fairly good overall. Thus. Nevertheless. which is shown in Figure 5. Less skilled comprehenders show less word-form accuracy. skilled comprehenders were more accurate at rejecting similar foils and selecting the correct form. the conclusion is that skilled comprehenders learn not only new word meanings more effectively but also new forms more effectively. with false alarms to foils ranging around 10%. there was no interaction of the type of foil with reader group. Wlotko. attracted few false alarms.). less skilled comprehenders chose a foil on 20% of trials. LQ implies coherence between form and meaning components. Both skilled and less skilled comprehenders made more errors to foils when both orthographic and phonemic overlap was high. However. which shared only the initial letter with the target. Figure 5 does not distinguish among foil types. The idea of stability is more specific than effective form learning. but there were differences: The foils with high phonemic overlap attracted the highest percentage of false alarms. hebetude) compared with false alarms to similar forms (hebitude. etc. . It implies that the word's representation comes to comprise spelling and pronunciation patterns that are identical on successive observations.LEXICAL QUALITY 371 Perfetti. Control foils. and foils with less phonemic overlap but high orthographic overlap were next. One way to examine stability in this 100% FIGURE 5 Form accuracy (lexical decisions) over four meaning learning sessions. and skill in reading is associated with higher LQ right from the beginning of learning.g. Form learning.

that is. Thus choosing hebetude at one test but then hebitude on the next would contribute negatively to this measure.8 0.92 0. Less skilled comprehenders show slightly less word form stability by this measure. and the difference becomes largest on the final session. Less Skilled Comprehenders' Semantic Processing of Ordinary Words The two preceding sections have concluded that problems in learning word meanings and in learning word forms both associate with comprehension skill. Stability (conditional probabilities of correct responses) shows a small but consistent difference on the next two sessions. when skilled comprehenders produced 96% stability compared with 86% for less skilled comprehenders. from the first session.88 0. the probability of being correct the next time. . probability of correct on LS(23) : HS(16) 0. which plots performance on successive lexical choice trials. Figure 6 shows again the slightly better performance of skilled compre-henders right from the beginning.94 0. on average. The performance plotted is conditional for sessions beyond the first: Given a correct choice in one test session.82 0.96 0. The conditional probability of a correct decision on rare words given a correct response on the preceding trial over successive lexical decision sessions.86 0. which is one of stability—choosing the same form the next time. An informal characterization of this result is that the less skilled group.372 PERFETTI sense is shown in Figure 6.98 0. This is evidence in favor of the stability implication of LQ. In the Given correct on trial n.78 FIGURE 6 An indicator of form stability during word learning.9 0.84 0. shows a small but noticeable instability even after four sessions of learning.

although in the direction implied by Landi's extension of Nation and Snowling's (1999) hypothesis. Landi (2005. tacks-tax (assessing phonological processing). linking behavioral and ERP measures to the assessments of specific lexical and comprehension skill. 1999). banana-tomato. we concluded that problems in meaning processes that were associated with form were more likely for less skilled readers. less skilled comprehenders would be comparable to skilled comprehenders in semantic processes when associative relations could facilitate detection of semantic relations. These group differences. Correct decisions based on category relations took an average of 68 msec longer than those based on associative relations for the skilled group and 139 msec longer for the less skilled group. green-pink. skilled comprehenders showed faster semantic processing whether the stimuli were words or pictures and faster word judgments whether the decision was based on meaning or pronunciation. In effect. boar-bore. The key results can be summarized as follows: Accuracy was generally high for all tasks and not different between the two groups. For example. Thus. Thus. for example. This confirms the assumption that detecting category relations would require more processing than detecting relations between associations. Landi tested the hypothesis that such readers are less able to effectively use semantic category information. Landi's experiments targeted the group of readers of Figure 1 who are in the lower right quadrant—below the diagonal and to the right of the z-axis midpoint: readers of high lexical skill but low comprehension skill. For word meanings. kite-balloon were pairs related only categorically. Landi & Perfetti. dog-cat.LEXICAL QUALITY 373 Studies of Form-Meaning Confusions section. 2007) extended the range of this hypothesis to include adults. but they would be less successful than skilled comprehenders when they had to rely only on categorical relations. 1998. times for correct decisions were faster for the skilled group than the less skilled group across all tasks. were not reliable. However. The hypothesis that semantic deficits may explain comprehension problems has been developed and tested for children (Nation & Snowling. The basic idea is that such children have achieved the basics of phonological decoding but are limited in the meaning processes that are linked to word identification. To provide more informative comparisons. chants—chance. In this section we consider semantic processing differences for ordinary words already known to the reader. Landi's hypothesis was based on Nation and Snowling's (1999) conclusion that children's comprehension problems reflected failures to represent semantic category relations. participants also made semantic judgments on pairs of pictures (controlling for word reading) and homophone decisions. brother-sister. . the decision times to semantic category pairs were slower than to associative pairs. Participants made meaning decisions for word pairs that were related associatively and categorically or categorically only. pillow-sleep were pairs both associatively and categorically related.

but small (P200. the ERPs suggest that semantic category processes were comparable in the two groups. ERP = event-related potential. large (P200. Taken together. Notice that if all we had were behavioral data. (The tendency for less skilled comprehenders to take relatively longer than skilled comprehenders on category decisions may be relevant. and this response was even stronger when the words were also associatively related. 3 . -Associative Skill Differences in Decision Times ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Comprehension Skill Differences in ERP Measures? No No Yes. N400) Yes. We would conclude that there is no semantic processing skill difference The ERP results also produced evidence for early semantic effects at 200 msec that were more consistent across electrode sites and trial conditions for skilled comprehenders. They also showed 200-msec effects for the phonological task. however such a difference could be interpreted as an additional checking process well beyond the more automatic semantic process that is reflected in the N400. the high-skill group.-Categorical Semantic Semantic word decisions— Note. the ERP measures showed differences that were restricted to the semantic word decisions. contrary to the expectation that less skilled comprehenders would have specific problems with category relations. but this response was not strengthened by associative relations. Whereas the decisions times showed very general processing-speed differences. they suggest detailed evidence for semantic-processing differences between the skilled and less skilled comprehenders. Thus.374 PERFETTI TABLE 3 Summary Skill Pattern in Landi ERP Results Comprehension Task Phonological decisions Semantic picture decisions word decisions. but not the low-skill group. N400) Source: Landi and Perfetti (2007). Both groups showed a reliable reduction in the N400 for related trials for both category and associative pairs. The less skilled group showed a congruence response also. The ERP evidence suggested that skilled comprehenders had a stronger meaning congruence response when words were categorically related. Moreover.)3 Table 3 shows a summary of skill differences across tasks. showed an additional N400 reduction for the associatively related pairs relative to the category pairs. but the ERPs for associative relations were not. and these results present a slightly different picture. comparing homophones versus nonhomophones that were comparable across the two groups. and perhaps misleading. although in each case the reduction shown by skilled compre-henders was somewhat larger. our conclusion would be different.

that is. A second condition. This integration is a central connecting event between word identification and text comprehension. explosion). The approach of the studies is illustrated in the following text: After being dropped from the plane.LEXICAL QUALITY 375 specific to language. & Schmalhofer. the paraphrased condition. one with skilled comprehenders (Yang. our studies on this question use ERPs to examine the N400 semantic congruence indicator. and it is that fact that we exploited in two parallel studies. & Schmalhofer. The N400 has been found to vary with demands on sentence and text-level integration (van Berkum... And we would have concluded that these groups differed either on phonological processes (because of the phonological decision speed differences) or. on nonspecific processing-speed differences. Lexical Processing During Text Comprehension My final example returns to the key link between lexical processes and comprehension. where one can observe word processing "on-line" as part of text reading. Do skilled comprehenders integrate words immediately into the text? Do less skilled comprehenders? The LQH (and also verbal efficiency theory) predicts word-text integration problems for less skilled readers. That is.. The explosion was . This condition is termed "explicit" because there are explicit coreferential phrases (exploded. the bomb hit the ground and exploded.. This link is most direct at the level of short runs of text. The focal issue is the processes that integrate the word currently being read with the ongoing representation of the text. The ERP data are telling us more directly about the brain's response to words. When the reader comes to explosion at the beginning of the second sentence. was of special interest from a semantic processing point of view. & Brown. 1999). and the word explosion is integrated with this event-proposition. Instead of the first sentence referring to . and they seem to say that there are specific skill differences related to word-meaning processes. it should be relatively easy to integrate the word with an understanding of the text based on the first sentence. a sentence or two. ERPs were acquired as each word was read. because of differences in picture decision speed. one word at a time) processing.e. Perfetti. we can assume that the reader's text memory includes the event-proposition [bomb exploded]. Once again. Hagoort. more likely. The skill question is whether differences in globally assessed comprehension arise at this local (i. among other propositions from the first sentence. 2007) and one with less skilled comprehenders (Yang. 2005). it is taken as coreferential with the proposition. The underlining (not visible to participants) marks the target word (explosion) for our analysis. Perfetti.

which other conditions produce reduction of the N400? When meaning integration is relatively easy. the plane dropped off its passengers and left. the bomb hit the ground and blew up. in which case encountering the word explosion in the next sentence would be easily integrated." For a semantic process that links words through their stored meanings (or through one that generates context-sensitive referential meanings from words). these words were not in propositions that suggested bomb dropping." The reader may predictively infer that the bomb exploded. After being dropped from the plane. the inference condition. it contained plane. allowed the critical word to be integrated readily only if the reader had made an appropriate forward (predictive) inference in the first sentence. and dropped. Table 4 shows both examples of texts and the pattern of skill results for these four conditions. . In viewing the table. Finally a baseline condition. The explosion was quickly reported to the commander. and Schmalhofer (2006. bomb. because one expects an N400 when the word explosion is read in the second sentence. it is important to keep in mind that yes and no cannot do justice to the full data. To control for specific words. This condition is a baseline. as a reader searches for the meaning of explosion and then links it to the meaning of "blew up" in the context of the first sentence. Perfetti. The explosion was quickly reported to the commander. The explosion was quickly reported to the commander. the unrelated condition. but. 2007) ERP (N400) Effect Condition Explicit Sample Passage After being dropped from the plane. The explosion was quickly reported to the commander.376 PERFETTI "exploded. The question is. However. Once the bomb was stored safely on the ground. such a reduction is expected. A third condition. the bomb hit the ground and exploded. compared with the N400 produced in the baseline condition. Both show large N400. provided an initial sentence that contained no possible antecedent for the word explosion. Skilled Yes Less Skilled Yes Paraphrased Yes (P300) No Inference No Yes Unrelated groups Baseline. the first sentence would say only that the "the bomb hit the ground. as can be seen in Table 4. integration is possible in this condition. After being dropped from the plane." it contains the paraphrase "the bomb blew up. The pattern as shown is an interpretation based on TABLE 4 Example of Materials for Word-to-Text Integration and Pattern of ERP Results From Yang. it might take a bit more processing work. In the example. notice that such a predictive inference in the first sentence is not necessary for comprehension. However. the bomb hit the ground.

Thus. This is just the kind of effortful and inefficient comprehension process the LQH predicts for readers with low-quality word knowledge. Skilled readers' maps showed an early rise of positivities in explicit and paraphrase conditions.. & Schmalhofer. the skilled comprehenders' N400 appeared to be intermediate between baseline and the two conditions (explicit and paraphrased) that produced significant N400 reduction. needs some hedging. (See Perfetti. Thus. However. for example. Less skilled comprehenders' maps showed widely distributed negativities even at 400 msec." Paraphrastic semantic relations require a lexical representation that allows a flexible range of meanings that can be fit to contexts. are important for semantic linking processes. This evidence exceeds what we are reviewing here and included topographic maps (ERP data displayed over the scalp and over time) that show a dramatic difference between the two groups. (2005. we blew up the photograph. Yang. For example." Paraphrase relations. when they read explosion. the ability to . 2005). Paraphrases are context dependent—"blew up" is not always a paraphrase of "exploded". LQ influences readers' resistance to form confusions. it can also be a paraphrase of "enlarged" as in "To see more detail. although they have not been studied much in comprehension research. before shifting to positive at points beyond 500 msec. paraphrase is an especially important process because it is at the "interface" of lexical knowledge and comprehension. An obvious one is that LQ determines the accuracy and fluency of word identification. Skilled readers showed that they easily integrated a word with the prior text through a paraphrase process.) To focus on what is clear and consistent in the pattern of Table 4.2007). for further discussion. suggesting that skilled readers make inferences some times but not generally. not merely words. Less skilled readers showed a significant reduction of the N400 in this condition. they link it to the event described in the preceding sentence as "blew up. whereas skilled readers did not. there is an important difference between skilled and less skilled comprehenders in the N400 data. we concluded that less skilled comprehenders showed "sluggish" word integration processes (Yang et al. In comprehension. The inference condition. words need to link with referentially specified mental representations. just as one would expect for inferences that are not required to maintain coherence. CONCLUSION: CONSEQUENCES OF LQ There are some generalizations to emphasize concerning the consequences of lexical processing (and lexical knowledge).LEXICAL QUALITY 377 a number of analyses reported in Yang et al. In evaluating the overall pattern of evidence in these studies. Less obvious consequences include the following. in press. we suggested their comprehension was "sluggish"—slow and not always successful in integrating a given word with the understanding of the text.

It is the second of these ideas for which phonology is relevant. In these cases. and the integration of words with text representations. Most of the studies I reviewed here assessed reading comprehension only.. 1988). One idea about phonological deficits is that they arise from low-quality phonological representations. It remains an important goal of the LQH to show more specific consequences of the various components of lexical knowledge. The LQH has its roots in one idea about comprehension—words matter for comprehension (verbal efficiency. Their problems in reading words are observable and so is their problem with phonology. and it is useful to place the LQH in the context they provide. Snowl-ing. the retrieval of meanings of learned words. we depend on the general correlation between comprehension and word processing to support the conclusion that our comprehension groups also differed in some aspect of LQ. Katz. 2007) reviewed previously. and semantic deficits are three deficit-based hypotheses at the word and subword level that have been important. and the links to lexical processing are in experimental manipulations rather than independent assessments. (2005. Indeed. 1985)—and one idea about word knowledge (the acquisition of effective word representations depends on precision and redundancy in sublexical constituents. Snowling. Another (Hart.378 PERFETTI learn the meanings of new words. Let's consider them one at a time. the stability of form representations. 2005) showed specific language-learning effects for high-LQ participants. 1995. 1999). 1995. Especially interesting is the consequence of verbal efficiency. Phonological deficits. The Causes of Low Ability in Reading There are other theories of low ability in reading. Perfetti. The phonological deficit hypothesis applies with full force to young children. Perfetti. 1992). The difference in explanation for reading problems is a matter of developmental level and theoretical emphasis. these procedures may be the primary means for establishing word-specific orthographic representations (Share. 2007) observed specific word-level semantic differences between comprehension groups that differed on comprehension only and not word decoding. 1986. & Stafford. 1998) gave it a specific form in the phonological distinctness hypothesis. naming deficits.g. which is demonstrated in the studies of Yang et al. The general form of this idea has been part of various explanations about phonological deficits (e. nondistinct . Phonological processing indeed has a central place in the acquisition of reading skill. Elbro (1996. Elbro argued that the distinctiveness of phonological representations is critical for distinguishing phonologically similar words from each other and suggested that dyslexics had incomplete. One study that assessed lexical processing and comprehension independently (Landi & Perfetti. and because the latter can explain the former. Wagtendonk. the phonological hypothesis is privileged. Procedures for phonological decoding have an important role in establishing high-quality word representations.

like the phonological hypothesis. it does not assess skill and knowledge on an individual word-by-word basis but rather by . 2001). There is neither compatibility nor interesting contrast between LQ and rapid naming if rapid naming is completely general rather than about words. but they no longer have the status of direct cause. at least in principle. phonological processes at higher (adult) levels of skill have not lost their importance. 1985). only one of these deficits is causal. just as verbal efficiency is. Our earlier research tended to show that among children who were garden variety low-skill readers. In any case. LQ remains a separate concept to explain general variation in reading and is not reducible to naming speed. and meaning knowledge for specific words and readers so that the only difference is the correlation among these components. Necoechea.LEXICAL QUALITY 379 phonological representations. The semantic deficit hypothesis. slow word-retrieval speed is not explained solely by number or picture retrieval. Although this separation has not been done. 2003). the situation is not so clear. there appear to be ample demonstrations that some very low-skill readers are generally slower at nonreading naming tasks (Wolfe. is a more specific cousin of LQ. it is important to note that adult variation is word-reading skill is associated with phonological performance in spelling (Dietrich & Brady. 2000). In the case of naming speed and the corresponding naming deficit. Trainin. Although the application of this hypothesis is generally to children. Although the research approximates this standard. For example. it could be. Phonological quality thus is a specific dimension of LQ that may be significant beyond its application to dyslexic children. although some meta-analyses have raised questions about the robustness of rapid naming effects across studies (Swanson. Thus. However. but this prediction has not been tested. notice this same problem limits both the semantic and phonological deficit hypotheses. By encompassing multiple components. However. the payoff for phonological processing—and the cost of problems with phonological processing—is word knowledge. Word retrieval can be only as fast as the limit set by general symbol retrieval (Perfetti. pronunciation. Bowers. It is possible that rapid naming of words is a by-product of LQ. which must be able to convincingly show that in a given group of readers. this problem is not intrinsic to the LQH but rather reflects the limitations generally seen in individual differences research. a specific prediction of the LQH is that high coherence among lexical constituents has consequences for reading. This is partly because it implies a difficult separation of spelling. LQ entails both semantic and phonological components. The contrast between rapid naming and verbal efficiency has been about a distinctive role for word reading. With development. the LQH seems to have verification in any study that shows skill-related consequences of any one of these. & Hammill. It inherits the weakness of low disconfirmation risk that comes with very general propositions. & Biddle. although phonological processing may have placed limits on LQ. On this understanding. Furthermore. the focus shifts away from phonological procedures and directly to word knowledge itself as a limiting factor in reading.

the quality problem may be in the semantic constituents of words. A difference among theses various approaches (those at both the low and the high levels) and the LQH is that the phonological.g. for example. the LQH is about knowledge that has not been acquired or practiced to a high-enough level... July 2006. although effective use of these experiences is likely to be influenced by biology as well as culture. However. naming. lead to variation in reading skill. including comprehension. To summarize. Alternatively.g. Some of the . relevant for reading by adults as well as children. there are several hypotheses about comprehension-specific deficits that target processes above the word level (e. the LQH implies that variation in the quality of lexical representations. These experiences include.. especially important. the application of the LQH is very broad. and. The source of LQ variation must arise through literacy and language experiences. including both form and meaning knowledge. learning to decode printed words. The possibilities are wide ranging (e.. and engagement with concepts and their language forms. and semantic deficit hypotheses (and also the inference hypothesis) seem to be about mechanisms that are not functioning properly. In the LQH. In contrast. Vancouver. The consequences of LQ can be seen in processing speed at the lexical level. Because knowledge and practice with this knowledge accumulate with age and experience. 2003). Oakhill et al. There is no on-off deficit in this characterization.380 PERFETTI controlling one variable through a global assessment (e. phonological decoding) so that it can measure the targeted variable experimentally. among other things. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This article is based on the author's Distinguished Research Award address to the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. one would have to show that word-meaning retrievals are responsible for inferences or for coherence checks or whatever comprehension process is at issue. These higher level accounts might be complementary to the LQH insofar as word meanings can be considered the interface between word identification and comprehension. to make this possibility meaningful. LQ is graded across words for a given individual and across individuals for a given word. orthographic. comprehension monitoring) and generally involve processes that operate on the outcomes of word-level processes. For some readers. in comprehension. practice in reading and writing. processes that do not operate effectively or efficiently arise from knowledge representations. for most readers. inference processes compete for processing resources. one might argue that working memory is the link and that low-quality word representations and. inferences. the problem cuts across meaning.g. In addition to these word-level hypotheses. and phonological knowledge.



studies reviewed in this article were supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305G020006 to the University of Pittsburgh. IES asks authors to note that any opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the U.S. Department of Education. REFERENCES
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University of Pittsburgh. In sentence contexts (Kutas & Hillyard. phonology. reflects the meaning congruence between a word and its previous context. according to the Lexical Quality Hypothesis (Perfetti & Hart. Kucera & Francis. Event-related potentials distinguished trained rare words from both untrained rare and familiar words. some will also encounter gloaming. most students do not know the meaning of gloaming. Hart. as well as the sheer number of known words.g. including. These results suggest that superior word learning among skilled comprehenders may arise from a stronger episodic trace that includes orthographic and meaning information and illustrate. 1980) and in single-word semantic priming contexts (Nobre & McCarthy. University of Pittsburgh. how an episodic theory of word identification can explain reading skill.g.S. we expect to see a reduced N400 in the related case. Thus. In examining these issues. presenting this word should evoke a P600 compared with a word that was not taught. we exploit two well-established ERP facts.g. Nearly all college students know the meanings of even many low-frequency nouns such as rubble. 1281 Beyond using ERPs to expose the consequences.. a word that is incongruent with its context produces a negative-going wave peaking at about 400 ms after the onset of the word. or some other word they do not know. E-mail: perfetti@pitt.6. 1999. The second fact is that an ERP component. Skilled readers may be better able to take advantage of word training events by remembering a new association between an orthographic form and a meaning. if we have recently taught the meaning of a word to a participant. Learning Research and Development Center. if the meaning of the word has been learned. 1989). flint.1281 Word Learning and Individual Differences in Word Learning Reflected in Event-Related Potentials Charles A. Rugg & Doyle. ERP study. N400. A previously encountered word produces a late positive-going wave (peaking at around 600 ms) following the onset of the word compared with a word not previously encountered in the experiment ("new word"). on one estimate learning about 3. Hart University of Pittsburgh Adults learned the meanings of rare words (e. Vol. an untrained rare word.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning. Perfetti. 1994). However. and meaning retrieval processes also should be affected. However. Skilled comprehenders learned more words than less skilled comprehenders and showed a stronger episodic memory effect at 400-600 ms on the 1st word and a stronger N400 effect on the 2nd word.. rare words that fail to occur in some of these word counts (e. Department of Education Grant R305G020006. We gratefully acknowledge the important contributions of Dayne Grove and Chin-Lung Yang to data analysis and the helpful comments of Erik Reichle and Gwen Frishkoff on a draft of the article. whereas a congruent word produces a reduced N400. . we should observe that the learner can recognize the word and understand its meaning. the N400. PA 15260.31. beyond this behavioral outcome. or an untrained familiar word. to the extent that it has a word knowledge component. The 1st word was a trained rare word. However. Wlotko. know the meanings of thousands of words and are vaguely familiar with many more. may also support the ability to learn the meanings of new words. 1281-1292 Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association 0278-7393/05/S12. and perhaps add its form and something about its meaning to their mental lexicon. Thus. ibex. and agog. first at 140 ms and again at 400-600 ms after onset of the 1st word. Memory. Edward W. This research was supported by U._ learning. Comprehension skill among children and adults is supported by their knowledge of words. and Lesley A. 6. 1995 for a review). gloaming) and then made meaning judgments on pairs of words. 3939 O'Hara Street. the precision of the reader's representation of orthography. compared with the unrelated case. and vocabulary learning Adult English speakers.. This late positive wave (or P600 component) is thus a marker of an episodic memory trace (see Rugg. Perfetti. If so. Pittsburgh. Skill in reading comprehension. we may observe the consequences of differential learning in an ERP component that reflects memory for recently learned words.00 DOl: 10. and abstention. we examine a corollary question about individual differences in reading comprehension skill. Rugg & Nagy. No. all of which have printed word frequencies of less than 5 per million words of text in some word counts (e. Recordings of event-related potentials (ERPs) may expose the consequences of learning in a word-processing task.of new word . and Lesley A. Of course.. Learning Research and Development Center.000 new words a year from the beginning of literacy (Nagy & Herman. if we test whether a participant has learned the meaning of a word that was taught by presenting the taught word followed by a word that could be related in meaning. 2001). 1967).1037/0278-7393. These results may point to an episodic memory effect. the process of reading the word. Our interest here is in examining the consequences of learning a new word for subsequent encounters with the word. One is that ERPs reveal the differences between "old" and "new" words in recognition memory experiments (Curran. 1992. ' Keywords: word learning. just as many people learn the meaning of abstention from some reading or spoken language experience. The 2nd word produced an N400 that distinguished trained and familiar word pairs that were related in meaning from unrelated word pairs. Edward W. and Cognition 2005. 31. and meaning. Kucera & Francis. 1967). the time course of its identification. Charles A. 1987). Wlotko. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Charles Perfetti.

added. we sought to test the hypotheses that skilled comprehenders would show more effective learning of rare words and that ERP differences would reflect stronger recognition and meaning match components. the probe word was semantically related to the first word. and familiar. Recordings Scalp potentials were recorded from 128 sites with Electrical Geodesic. two classes of rare words—trained and untrained—and a class of familiar words. but others were paired with a word that had not occurred as part of the training definition (e. impact of nonstimulus-related time-locked electrical activity. Each trial was preceded by a fixation cross for 400 to 550 ms. Method ' Participants Twenty-four undergraduates from the University of Pittsburgh Psychology Department participant pool provided data for the experiment. Semantically related pairs were created by experimenter judgment. and data from 2 participants were rejected due to excessive recording artifacts. gloaming followed by twilight would require a "yes" response. The potentials were recorded with a sampling rate of 500 Hz and a hardware bandpass filter of 0. Following learning. The order of stimulus words as well as the order of related and unrelated probe words was randomized for each participant. Notice that the procedure produced a different set of randomly selected trained words for each participant. For example. 51 relatively common words (a Kucera-Francis frequency rating of 40 words per million or greater). as determined by performance on the Nelson-Denny comprehension reduce any. They viewed a list of 250 letter strings. Accuracy feedback (correct or incorrect response) was presented after each trial in me form of a stylized smiling face for correct answers and a frowning face for incorrect answers..g.000 ms. Thus. that the participant had become familiar with the words we taught. participants performed a semantic decision task while electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded. The evidence for this would come from an indicator of episodic memory.w. Impedances generally were kept below a In the study reported here. this procedure resulted in three classes of words. The meaning probe word was removed from the screen when a response was made or after 2. Semantically unrelated pairs were created by shuffling the word pairs in each individual participant's stimulus list. Twelve were skilled readers and 12 were less skilled. for example. Participants were invited from a larger pool whose individuals had previously completed a variety of reading-related tasks. compared with untrained rare words. whichever came first. and 64 pseudowords. with the understanding mat they might not be able to learn all of them. and the participant pressed a "yes" or "no" button to indicate their decision about whether the two words were related in meaning. in a reduced N400.1 to 200 Hz.distinct from an episodic memory response. They were instructed to mark only the letter strings that they were sure were real words in English. The two skill groups were drawn from pools that included the top 20% of those tested (skilled comprehenders) and the bottom 20% of those tested (less skilled comprehenders). Procedure Word Selection Participants first completed a paper-and-pencil word detection task. the first word was from one of three categories: the rare words that we had just taught to this participant. (Variability. presented one at a time while we recorded the ERPs. participants made meaning judgments about pairs of words. consisting of 135 rare words that . a stimulus list was constructed for each participant by randomly selecting for training 60 of the rare words that the participant failed to mark as words.1282 PERFETTI. we would see ERP evidence. Data from 6 additional participants were not analyzed because of hardware malfunction. during a meaning judgment task. college students first learned the meanings of very rare English words (e. Inc. We hypothesized also that during the reading of a second word.response as. we assumed an exploratory approach to other ERP results. Training Participants studied the 60 rare training words for 45 min.000 ms elapsed. The remaining rare words that were not marked as words by the participant became the set of untrained rare words. a word was selected randomly from the total set of words (trained. In the meaning judgment task. If so. Each word was followed by a word that was either related or unrelated in meaning. Posttraining Semantic Decisions After the training period. Each stimulus list contained the pairing of a stimulus word with both a related and an unrelated probe word. The offset of this word was followed immediately by a second word. legally spelled and pronounceable nonwords. untrained. WLOTKO. specifically a late positivity (P600) that would show differences between trained words and both untrained rare words and familiar (but not recently viewed) words. Many trained words were paired with a meaning probe that had occurred as part of the definition (e.. Finally. AND HART did not appear in the Kucera & Francis (1967) corpus of over a million words. Those relatively common words that the participant did mark as words became the set of familiar words. clowder-cats). whether we could observe a meaning. gloaming). which remained visible while the participant responded with a button press to indicate whether it was related in meaning to the first word. and familiar) and presented for 1.g. The experimenter presented them with flashcards containing words on the front and their definitions on the we would see evidence for a meaning match for trained rare and familiar words. The learning phase of the study was very simple—the presentation of the rare word on one side of a card and a brief definition on the opposite side.g. on the other half. the two words were unrelated. a meaning probe. For example. The feedback image remained in view for 800 ms prior to the onset of the next trial. Participants were instructed to press the "1" key with their right index finger if the two words in a trial were related in meaning and to press die "2" key with their right middle finger if the two words were not related in meaning. We hypothesized that following word learning.. that is.) On half of the trials. On each trial. no less skilled comprehender exceeded an accuracy of 50%. rare words that we did not teach to the participant. gloaming was defined as "the twilight period before dark" and clowder was "a collection or group of cats. In addition to these targeted tests.. some ERP component should separate both familiar words and trained rare words from untrained rare words.'s (EGI's) Geodesic Sensor Net with Ag/AgCl electrodes. From the results of this task. medium-frequency words that the participant had not seen during the experimental session. All skilled comprehenders exceeded an accuracy of 64% on the Nelson-Denny. gloaming-evening)." Participants were instructed that they would be given 45 min to learn the 60 words and that they should become as familiar with the words and their definitions as they could. We controlled the selection of rare words for each participant individually such that the rare words were unfamiliar to a given participant prior to the experiment.

The factor scores for these seven factors. we carried out a temporal principal components analysis (PCA) on the ERPs.7 1283 Event-Related Potential Results To take advantage of the high-density recordings across the full epoch. F(l. Responses to untrained rare words were slower than to trained and familiar words. SD = 0. an interaction showed that the difference between correct and incorrect responses was present for trained and familiar words only.6 69. Trials containing eye movement. SD = 0. To these.02%) and trained rare words (83. because it normalizes variances across variables. and correctness of response. response times varied between 700 ms and 900 ms.0 89. and the clusters are shown in Figure 3. 42) = 20.0 87. which participants used to make a decision.4 69. with the data consisting of the recording from each electrode in each condition for each participant. 1995. F(2.3% of the total variance.800 ms at 2-ms samples). and response accuracy. Fifteen scalp locations were chosen for analysis based on the 10/10 system. these factors accounted for 93. p < . Results Behavioral Results Tables 1 and 2 show the accuracy and decision time results for the meaning judgment task. p = .72. which reflects the fact that skilled comprehenders were more accurate than less skilled comprehend-ers for trained rare words (about 10% difference) but not for untrained rare words (<1% difference) or for familiar words (about 1% difference). An analysis of meaning decision times showed a main effect of word type.01.01. whereas other analyses conclude that differences are negligible for most ERP data (e. For accuracy.000 ms) plus the meaning probe (Word 2 = 800 ms). F(2. Following rejection of trials with artifacts. The results of the PCA showed 6 factors with eigenvalues greater than 10. this PCA analyzes an epoch that consists of two words.1 Because the promax rotation does not assume that the factors are orthogonal. depending on word type. were analyzed with repeated-measures ANOVA.6 40. Together.6 76.01. something that seems advantageous in the relatively unexamined word learning question we are studying here.7 81. allowing an overall data-driven view. Although this can increase the chances that noise will influence the factor solution.34. Matrices are usually of one of two types: covariance and correlation.5 83. 44) = 50.9 40.WORD LEARNING AND EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS threshold of 40 kfi. and 2 occipital).3 88.4 87. 2005). 3 parietal.3%. 21) = 10.17. relatedness. plus 5 additional locations. However. The results showed higher accuracies for familiar words (87. p < .00.1 86. 1998). ERPs were transformed using the average reference. p < . 2005.8 88.8 39.01. eyeblink. which corresponded to 400 ms after the onset of the probe word. The temporal variables consisted of 900 time points across two words (1. F(2.01. A digital low-pass elliptical filter of 30 Hz was applied to the recordings.3 87.7 81. Dien. as well as a Word Type X Relatedness interaction. p < .14. which we retained for further analysis.0 54. We based our clusters on standard 10/10 locations in order to have our results more easily compared with Skilled Less skilled M PCA involves a decision about the form of the association matrix that calculates relationships between pairs of variables by associating their data points. a set of 10 locations commonly reported in ERP research.0 69.3 54. F(2. from which factors emerge for further statistical testing. 1998). The logic of PCA is to use the full set of electrodes and time points to determine the intercorrelations of ERP shifts over time. Van Boxtel.800-ms epoch defined by the presentation of the stimulus word (Word 1 = 1. We used a correlation matrix. To each of these 15 recording locations (3 central. a time point for which we hypothesized a meaning congruence indicator (N400).03. Its factor solutions converged on those we report here. 1 . allows all variables equal weight in determining the factor structure. an analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a main effect of word type. with untrained rare words showing no effect. we added Factor 11. responses to related words were faster than responses to unrelated words. 4 temporal. F(2.10%). and channel artifacts were rejected and not used in analysis. A significant methodological literature has developed around the consequences of choosing one over the other. it also can help to detect small but theoretically important variables in the PCA. shown in Figure 1. and all had at least 20 trials. and correct responses were faster than incorrect responses. which. we also carried out a covariance-based PCA.g. 44) = 331. F(l. A recent analysis concluded that misallocation of variance is more likely with correlation than covariance matrices (Dien & Frishkoff. The PCA used a correlation matrix and a promax rotation (K = 4). Finally.01. The original waveforms for the 15 single electrodes are shown in Figure 2.3 86.4 85. with most clusters having 7 electrodes. Chapman & McCrary. 42) = 8.0 78. and relatedness.4 87. the ERP segments were corrected relative to a 100-ms baseline. 22) = 7.4%. p < . SD = 0. relatedness.6 88. allowing us to observe not only the ERP effects on the first word—the trained rare.. it has some advantages for temporally correlated ERP data (Dien & Frishkoff.7%. we added those channels immediately adjacent.41.58. Table 1 Behavioral Results: Percent Accuracy Condition Familiar Related Unrelated M :ained rare Related Unrelated M ntrained rare Related Unrelated M 87.01%) compared with untrained rare words (56. with only minor differences on the second word that do not affect our interpretation. 44) = 6. As shown in Table 2. To test the robustness of our conclusions over these matrix alternatives. and untrained familiar words—but also on the second word.6 55. F(l.3 87. p = <. untrained rare.70. Bad channels were removed from the recordings and replaced by spherical spline interpolation with data from the remaining channels. This creates a cluster scheme in which the data from a cluster are the average of between 4 and 8 electrodes. two thirds of the participants had 30 trials per condition.01. The interaction showed a "no" response bias for the untrained rare words only: a tendency to judge an untrained word and its meaning probe as"~unrelated: There was also a'Word Type X Skill interaction. The ERPs were stimulus-locked averages consisting of a 100-ms baseline and a 1. p < . Thus. 21) = 57.

1978) processes. Word 1 Two Words: Promax PCA yes/no 140 ms. which did not differ. can be seen in all frontal and central electrodes as well as left temporal and parietal sites. the stimulus word: at 500 ms (Factor 2). 2003) and graphic-phonological coding (Barnea & Breznitz. Because two factors (peaks at 64 and 234 ms during Word 1) showed no effects of experimental conditions. clustering. we do not report their analysis below. parietal. WLOTKO.2 For the ANOVAs. between subjects) ANOVA.1284 PERFETTI. We tested the lateral locations using a Hemisphere (2) X Lobe (6) X Word Type (3) X Relatedness (3) X Skill (2. & Chapman. or regional averaging." we performed separate ANOVAs for midline and lateral locations. 44) = 3. 1990). F(2. The 64-ms peak appears to reflect exogenous factors associated with the onset of the first word. the probe word: one peaks at 372 ms (Factor 11) after the onset of Word 2. 2003. However. and 64 ms (Factor 6) after the onset of Word 1. the 15 clusters organized factors corresponding to hemisphere (left. AND HART Table 2 Behavioral Results: Semantic Decision Times (in Milliseconds) Skilled Less skilled M Correct Incorrect M M Condition Familiar Related Unrelated M Trained rare Related Unrelated M Untrained rare Related Unrelated M Overall M Correct Incorrect 730 763 747 700 771 736 891 866 879 787 897 917 907 909 878 894 873 904 889 896 814 840 827 805 825 815 882 885 884 842 702 743 723 709 758 734 840 811 889 768 778 886 832 823 837 830 804 856 826 830 740 815 778 766 798 782 822 834 828 796 111 828 801 786 812 799 852 860 857 819 any effects in the previous literature while still taking advantage of the benefits of clustering. 2005). In reporting the analyses of these factors below. Time(ms) Figure 1. Pairwise tests showed that trained rare words were distinguished from both familiar (p — . of electrodes has advantages. negative in posterior) are similar to ERP components that have been interpreted as graphic processing (Liu & & Hart. between subjects) ANOVA. Its timing and topography (positive going. suggesting a word-onset related process. 5. Factors 4 and 6 did not show effects of experimental variables. It reduces the noise associated with individual electrodes while allowing a large number of electrodes to be used (Dien & Santuzzi. The 2 ERP clustering does not yet have a standardized procedure and may not be appropriate for applications to traditional low-density electrode recordings. Four factors were associated with the time period of Word 1. Trained words were more negative than untrained words and familiar words. Woldorff. Because temporal and occipital locations do not have a "midline. Factor 3 is a two-word factor. the Greenhouse-Geisser correction was used. p = . rising from about 600 ms after the onset of the first word and peaking at 32 ms after the onset of Word 2. Three factors peak within the time period of Word 2. The 140-ms factor showed a main effect of word type in the midline ANOVA. and short-term storage (Chapman. For factors that did not show sphericity across factor levels. Our analysis spans a time periodacross the-presentation of two words with the factors identified by the PCA. & Hillyard.03. although not pronounced. 234 ms (Factor 4). we group them according to whether their peaks occurred during the first word or the second word and refer to them by the latencies of their peaks. The midline locations were tested with a Lobe (3) X Word Type (3) X Relatedness (2) X Skill (2. and occipital). Perfetti. central. at 140 ms (Factor 5).03) and untrained rare words (p = . two temporal locations. Principal components analysis (PCA) factors retained for analysis. Factors 1.01). another (Factor 1) is a broad "slow wave" factor that begins to rise sharply at approximately 300 ms after the onset of Word 2 and peaks at 626 ms after the onset. The 234 ms factor rises again in a less pronounced form at the same latency following the onset of Word 2. right. instead reflecting general task effects. 1994).frontal sites. for high-density recordings. The greater negativity at 140 ms for trained words. Liu. . 3. midline) and lobe (frontal. feature detection (Luck & Hillyard. 2. McCrary. and 11 showed significant effects of experimental variables.97. 1998) as well as more general attention (Hackley.

WORD LEARNING AND EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS 1285 P7 (59) P8 (92) Familiar Trained Rare Untrained Rare Ol (72) 02 (77) Figure 2. . Grand average waveforms for 15 electrodes.

01.717.333. whereas trained rare words were less positive than familiar and untrained rare words in frontal sites.25.59. p < . 88) = 22.36 and midline ANOVA.24. This trained-word factor appears to correspond to the old-new memory effect (P600 or late positive complex [LPC]) that is found for recently viewed and recognized items. WLOTKO. whereas the central and parietal sites distinguished both familiar and trained rare words (more negative) from untrained rare words.01. p < . a Word Type X Lobe interaction also occurred in the midline ANOVA.786 in the lateral ANOVA. Furthermore.000 ms for Word 2. with a positivity at parietal sites.000 ms for Word 1 and 1. p < . this trained-word factor was more pronounced for skilled comprehenders than less skilled com-prehenders.443. F(10. spilling over into the presentation of the probe word. Inc. bilaterally negative at frontal and central locations and positive at parietal. This factor rises from 6Q0 ms of the first word.703. Greenhouse-Geisser s = .01. p < . and a Word Type X Lobe X Skill interaction. F(4. whereas 3 In addition to the analysis based on the two-word epoch reported here. These conclusions are supported by Word Type X Lobe interaction. trained words were more positive than other word types in posterior locations.75. 220) = 3. and occipital locations. The midline analysis showed the frontal sites to be more positive for familiar words than for rare words (both trained or untrained).-Trained words were positive only in left frontal sites.73.71. midline lobe effect. EGI Electrical Geodesic. The more pronounced positivity is visible in this central parietal cluster as well as in individual parietal electrodes (and Cz) of Figure 2. we carried out an analysis separately for each word. 220) = 7. posterior temporal.76. Greenhouse-Geisser s = . 1.3 32 ms After Onset of Word 2. lobe effect F(5. p < . sensor. Greenhouse-Geisser s = . Fifteen electrodes from the 10-10 were defined as cluster centers. Greenhouse-Geisser s = . Greenhouse-Geisser e = . F(10. except that only in the two-word epoch analysis can one see a factor that overlaps the offset of the first word and the onset of the second word. However. The trained-word effect actually is seen even more clearly in the separate word analysis.01. . Greenhouse-Geisser s = . F(10. 44) = 6. VREF = voltage-reference electrode. F(4. Greenhouse-Geisser e = . p < .1286 PERFETTI.264. The factor that spans the first and second word appears to be sensitive to a separation of all three word types. 15) = 3. F(2. In general. general topography for this early time window is a negativity at frontal and central sites. however. the two-word and separate word analyses showed very similar patterns.01. The lateral analysis also showed that familiar and trained words (more negative) were distinguished from untrained words (less negative) in the central sites. 15) = 4. p < . 500 ms. F(10. Electrode clusters. In this time period. Word Type X Lobe interactions were present for bom the lateral ANOVA. 88) = 5. Figure 4 shows the Word Type X Lobe X Skill interaction and the waveforms for the Poz cluster that reflects the interaction.96. The lateral analysis also showed this pattern. this pattern was modified by a Word Type X Lobe X Hemisphere interaction in the lateral ANOVA. AND HART Cluster Locations 10/10 System F3 Fz F4 C3 Cz C4 'T7 T8 P3 Poz P4 P7 P8 01 02 EGI 128 25 11 124 37 VREF 105 46 109 53 68 87 59 92 72 77 Figure 3.01.01. 110) = 11.43. Greenhouse-Geisser e = .

57.& u O to s a U a 'B P H LessS killed Skilled Poz . As can be seen in the midline interaction shown in Figure 5. 44) = 5. F(10. p = . This pattern can be seen in the waveforms in Figure 2. F(l. 44) = 4. whereas less skilled comprehenders showed less sensitivity. Word 2 372 ms. Greenhouse-Geisser e = .6 0. respectively.ta l -0. 44) = 3. k\ T Cr^J ] -L ± y 5 b S CJ s 'S CM .4 -0. skilled comprehenders were sensitive to differences among all three word types in this time window.6 1 ^4 . 22) = 4. The hypothesis predicts relatedness effects according to whether Word 2 was related or unrelated in meaning to Word 1. F(2.8 0.67. although its eigenvalue was less than 10. The lateral analysis showed a significant relatedness effect. we hypothesized an N400 relatedness effect as the participant read the second word.41. u 0 u « -0. p < . p = . and F(2.04.Less Skilled Poz -High Skilled -Familiar -Trained Rare -Untrained Rare Time (ms) Time (ms) Figure 4. Word Type X Lobe X Skill interaction for Word 1. and significant interactions of Word Type X Relatedness X Hemisphere.920. bilateral but more positive in left than right sites. 220) = 3. both the midline and lateral analyses showed a Word Type X Skill interaction. p = .97. with familiar words showing an intermediate pattern.02. Because the task required a semantic decision.03. p = . especially to the difference between familiar and trained words.8 1 1 1 1 it a l . The midline ANOVA showed interactions of Word Type X Re- Temp r 3/ o a 4 l Temp r 5/ o a 6 l ita l .12. untrained words were bilaterally positive. accordingly. F(2. * 2 T ^NS - T 4-^—/1-t.4 <u S —■— Familiar —*—Trained Rare untrainea nare T 0.74. we tested the 372 ms factor. The distinction among the three word types was more pronounced for skilled comprehenders. Finally.01. and Word Type X Lobe X Hemisphere X Skill. Greenhouse-Geisser e = .& uO Temp r 3/ o a 4 l Temp r 5/ o a 6 l ita l .02.WORD LEARNING AND EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS 1287 Word type x Lobe x Skill 0.2 u . Greenhouse-Geisser e = . 500-ms factor (top) and Poz clusters for skilled and less skilled readers showing the interaction 500-600 ms after the onset of Word 1 (bottom).2 to -0.935.

which was larger in the right than the left recording locations.01.1288 PERFETTI. More interesting is that the effects of learning were observed in ERP records as well as in behavioral measures. p < . especially untrained rare words. When people learned the meaning equivalence of a rare word such as gloaming. Figure 8 shows the basic N400 effect in the average waveforms from the right parietal (P4) cluster. AND HART Word type x Skill Less Skilled Figure 5. however. We interpret this effect as an episodic memory indicator. p < . Skilled Word Type X Skill. Discussion Our results demonstrate that ERP measures can be used as indicators of word learning. two-word factor.74. similar to an old-new P600 observed in recognition memory. This pattern may reflect meaning retrieval or verification processes that are stronger for the familiar words than for rare words. The interaction corresponds to the late separation of the word types. Both analyses also showed an interaction of Word .01. Notice the lack of an effect for untrained rare words. was present for familiar words and trained words. especially in midcentral and parietal sites. (See Figures 6 and 7. As can be seen in Figure 6.330. with peak at 32 ms after onset of Word 2. 44) = 17. where the reduced negativity for related words can be seen for familiar and trained words.) The interactions confirmed that an N400 effect.01. 88) = 8. Greenhouse-Geisser s = . familiar and trained words were separated clearly from untrained rare words. p < . the consequences of this learning were observable when the learners made meaning judgments on the word.01. 44) = 6. Greenhouse-Geisser s = . that latedness. skilled comprehenders showed a stroiiger relatedness effect. but not untrained words. Figure 7 shows that the word type patterns for the two skill groups were similar in right hemisphere sites (although frontal sites were more positive for skilled comprehenders). A word type effect appeared in both the lateral. lateral F(10. that is. WLOTKO. Type X Lobe. Accuracy of meaning judgments was about 84% for 60 words following 45 min of training. and midline F(4. 88) = 5. and Word X Lobe. F(4. F(2. 220) = 5. Slow wave factor.780.01. The "slow wave" factor. p < . Greenhouse-Geisser e = . F(2.01. comparable to the accuracy on medium-frequency words already familiar to the learners. reduced in posterior locations. a typical component in PCAs for ERP data. in the left hemisphere temporal (T3) cluster. as can be seen in the waveforms of Figure 2. whereas for skilled comprehenders. F(2. this factor reflected a clear cognitive component in both ANOVAs. can include noncognitive time-locked factors as well as cognitive factors. p < . for which one expects their relatedness to be undetected.76. The effect of training was seen in a late positive shift that we identify as an episodic training effect. The interactions also reflected a larger N400 effect for skilled comprehenders than for less skilled comprehenders. Trained words showed the effect. whereas untrained rare words and familiar words did not. The general pattern is that familiar words are most positive and untrained rare words are most negative. less skilled comprehenders showed no separation of word types. especially in frontal regions. and midline analyses. p < . In these data.415. 44) = 9.

because participants did not know the meanings of the untrained words. Furthermore. Moreover. what is distinctive in the present study is the sensitivity of an early component to the episodic status of the word. Although one might consider other explanations. First. However. For a learning indicator. This time window is rather early to be interpreted in the same manner as the late positivity old-new effect. . the unrelated probes to untrained rare words produced no N400 effect. which was observed during the presentation of the second word. Neither the early nor the later separation of trained words from other words can be taken as an indicator of learning word meanings. This gives us further evidence that participants learned something about the meaning of the trained words that allowed a congruence effect to be observed on a following meaning probe. including a sensitivity to word frequency. because participants were nearly as accurate on the rare trained words as on familiar words. Furthermore. we point out again that the words used for training were individually selected as words that a given participant did not recognize as a real word. skilled comprehenders. an unrelated probe word is expected to produce a larger N400 than a related probe word. the topography in mat study differed from what we found here. Echallier. Mouchetant-Rostaing. Rayner. the behavioral data indicate that more than mere recognition occurred. participants were recognizing the trained words as recently experienced during training. have been observed around 140 ms in a study by Sereno. ERP data from the N400. some familiarity for the rare words for skilled comprehenders. This result may reflect slightly better learning by the skilled readers. On this interpretation. it might reflect a process in which visual attention is drawn to features of a word that has been recently viewed. and Posner (1998). no skill effects were observed for the equally unfarmliar rare words that were not trained. In a semantic judgment task. & Pernier. skilled comprehenders were reliably more accurate than less skilled comprehenders in meaning judgments on recently trained words. evidenced in both behavioral and ERP data. are better able to use their word knowledge to add new words to their vocabularies or are simply better at learning new associations or retaining specific episodic information. 1999). However. a slightly different form of an old-new effect reflecting something less than full orthographic analysis. for example. not its frequency or orthography—a component not dependent on the word itself but on its recent exposure history. Although word-related components. Giard.WORD LEARNING AND EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS 1289 Relatedness x Lobe x Skill Figure 6. In the present study. but again the topography is different. at around 140 ms after the onset of Word 1. In contrast. We also found several interesting differences between skilled and less skilled comprehenders. who also have larger vocabularies. Other studies have found early word-processing components at around 170 ms (Bentin. the meaning probe. Relatedness X Lobe X Skill interaction for Word 2 at 372 ms. trained rare words separated from both untrained and familiar words even prior to this late positive shift. unrelated probes for both familiar and trained words produced a large negative deflection in the N400 compared with related probes. we have. in addition to behavioral results. because the unrelated probe is semantically incongruent with the first word. These facts suggest that the differences between skill groups emerged during encounters with the word during learning that are reflected at testing.

It is important to note that our results represent a case in which ERP data help constrain the interpretation of a behavioral result. However.\ —*— Trained Rare —*— Untrained Rare — — ^ ^ V in _ _ — _ -0.6 T3 -0. More specifically.8 0. The 10% accuracy differences between skilled and less skilled comprehenders (and the absence of differences for untrained and familiar words) are mirrored by ERP differences that help explain them. 1992). Probst. The skill difference in the late positive shift suggests that skill differences observed in accuracy reflect the strength of the familiarity that resulted from training. A related difference in a P600 effect was reported in a study of recognition memory by Riisseler. in research on recognition memory. Coch and Holcomb (2003) reported that first-grade children of high reading skill but not low reading empora l emp o 13 B cS ^ . fi •g J3 '5 ■3 m -3- ■q 4l ■3 m ■»• ■r ■S" i ■S a .6 0. comprehension skill was associated only with the later component. A few other studies have focused on the N400 as capable of distinguishing reading skill.2 —■— Fatmhar ^ 1° W-0. o O. It is possible that both the word form and its associated meaning are part of the episode that is reflected in this later component. It is interesting to note tiiat although the distinction between trained words and other words was visible both very early (140 ms) and later (500 ms). the earlier component may reflect a general episodic effect that depends not on orthographically based word identification but on some visual attention factor. For example. reflecting a stronger congruence when the second word matched the meaning of the first word. Participants knew they would make a meaning judgment.« rr TS ■a ■a •a •■* •a . Thus.4 * X t 1 1E ---•a 43 . who found that a P600 old-new effect was obtained for normal adult readers (more positive for old words in a left parietal electrode) but not adult dyslexics. This suggests directly that the training produced a stronger memory trace of the word for skilled comprehenders. and Miinte (2003).4 O 0.ts ■a ■a •a ■fi ^f yi ■a empora l emp o emp o emp ra o l emp ra o l te. Comprehension skill may be less relevant to this level of processing. Johannes. the P600 that distinguished trained rare words from other words. o Left H o O O a. there is no basis to conclude that they were. Skilled comprehenders also showed a larger N400 effect during the presentation of the second word.8 •a r> ■s £ ?■ !P •a S ■a -■* .& '6 'd d. Paller & Kutas. skilled comprehenders showed a larger episodic memory effect. It is an open question whether this later episodic trace includes only the orthographic form of the trained word as presented or also the meaning that was associated with it during training. HEM = hemisphere.1290 PERFETTI. s c U fl H H Right HEM Skilled Right Hi . WLOTKO. although participants may have been either automatically or intentionally trying to retrieve meaning information associated with the trained word during this 400-600 ms time window. compared with a word-form-based episodic effect that occurs later. results suggest that an intention to retrieve information is not necessary for the P600 (Curran. A general result is that ERPs of less skilled readers showed less sensitiyity to the differences among the three word types. However. 1999. As we suggested above. AND HART Word type x Lobe x Hemisphere x Skill 0. ---. Recalling an associated meaning of the first word would help with that task.M Less kille 1 E c Figure 7. This suggests that skilled comprehenders achieved a better learning of the meaning of the trained word.2 -0. O Left # o ft. Word Type X Lobe X Hemisphere X Skill interaction for word 2 at 372 ms. O empo g 'S 'H H a a. familiarity is not the end of the story. allowing a related word to show a congruence response.

Perfetti & Hart. P600) on the basis of the waveforms of selected electrodes were visible in the PCA as well. skill showed N400 responses in passive viewing of words and pseudowords.Untrained Rare Unrelated Figure 8. PCA also exposed a component that overlaps the end of the first word's presentation and the start of the second word's presentation. Because we had specific hypotheses about a late-latency positive component during the first word (P600) and a midlatency negative component. the effects that are traditionally reported as components (N400. as evidenced in their performance on a single-word meaning probe following training. The source of this stronger episodic trace has at least two possibilities. P4 cluster showing word type and relatedness. Rubin and Johnson (2002) reported that learning-disabled adults showed a longer N400 latency to words in context than did non-disabled readers. 2001). We add some methodological observations to our discussion. One is that skilled comprehenders were better at learning the meanings they were taught. Notably. However. (However. However. 1994. the specific point for our N400 results is the role of the N400 as an indicator of learning success and the conclusion that skilled comprehenders are more successful at learning new word meanings. it is likely that this difference in sensitivity reflected a difference in learning that allowed skilled comprehenders to establish stronger episodic traces for trained words. Adults who were higher in comprehension skill showed better learning of 60 words from 45 min of training than did those lower in comprehension skill. First. Thus. gloaming. the single epoch can expose both word-specific components and shared components. The ERP evidence adds to these behavioral results by showing that skilled comprehenders were more sensitive to whether a word had been in the training set. and indeed it appears to have done so. while accurately reflecting the temporal dynamics that go with asking people about relations between successive words. one might suppose that the observed skill differences reflected the ability to learn . as evidenced by the behavioral results. suggesting a meaning verification process for words whose meanings were either previously known or recently learned. From 372 ms following the onset of Word 2. Because our study was about word meanings. We do not assume that native language word learning usually involves the kind of associative training used in our study. we return to the general question of learning word meanings and the role of ERPs in studying this question. there is a similarity to classroom procedures for second-language learning. The PCA revealed a late positive shift that. presented with gloaming. we note the value of PCA in a study of ERPs. When the interest is in processes that are distributed over two words.Untrained Rare Related . we could have tested for these components in t tests on specific electrodes. More related to the present result. the PCA allowed a more data-driven approach that could expose other task-related shifts. Finally. Skilled comprehenders generally know more about word forms (orthography and pronunciations) than do less skilled comprehenders (Bell & Perfetti. allowing follow-up tests of waveforms.WORD LEARNING AND EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS P4 Cluster-From the Onset of Word 2 — Familiar Related 800 —Familiar Unrelated 1291 Ttme(ms) P4 Cluster-From the Onset of Word 2 — Trained Rare Related — Trained Rare Unrelated Time(ms) P4 CInster-From the Onset of Word 2 . beyond any non-cognitive components it might have contained. Retrieving whatever was learned about the meaning of a word depends on recognizing the form of the word." A related possibility is that skilled comprehenders were better able to encode (and thus recognize) the orthographic word form. they retrieved the episodic trace that established the association "gloaming means twilight. Second. we note the potential value of treating two successive stimuli as a single recording epoch. there is a separation of related from unrelated words for familiar and trained rare words only. Because words to be trained were chosen so as to be unknown to individual participants. differentiated among word types.) We conclude that there are individual differences in the ability to learn the meanings of new words. even in the absence of source analysis.

E. The present results can be taken to suggest the plausibility of this proposal in accounting for differences in reading comprehension. Journal of Human Brain Mapping. Y. & Holcomb. (1980). Curran.. (2002).. Sereno. 4. M. B1-B13. T. Rugg. In T. E. H. A. ERP manifestations of processing printed words at different psycholinguistic levels: Time course and scalp distribution. Z. 4. Handy (Ed. C.. (1987).. M. NeuroReport. K.. G. Brain Topography. Cambridge.. Hackley. S. Kutas. C.. DC: American Psychological Association. Gazzaniga (Ed. brainstem and cerebral evoked potentials. EP component identification and measurement by principal components analysis. WLOTKO. M. M. 43. In D. A. Short-term memory: The storage component of human brain responses predicts recall. 244-255. Cambridge. Cognition. Dien. A. Handy (Ed. Developmental Psychology. M. Rugg. Van Boxtel. Cross-modal selective attention effects on retinal. M. & Frishkoff. (1998). The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. M. M. Event-related brain potentials to semantically inappropriate and surprisingly large words.. & McCarthy. myogenic. Gorfien (Ed. Y. C. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum. AND HART Kucera. (2003). 35(4).1292 PERFETTI. Certainly. J. Psychophysiology. J. 7(1).. 189-207). Event-related potentials and recognition memory for low-frequency and high-frequency words. Biological Psychology. A. & Perfetti. MA: MIT Press. On the consequences of meaning selection (pp. 70. Mouchetant-Rostaing. MA: MIT Press. S. W. & Snowling. Computational analysis of present-day American English. (1998). & Miinte. T. M. & Chapman. 395-406. 789-801).. 37. Paller. 375-391. Woldorff. & Pernier.). 27. Echallier. J. A. & Nagy. D. Probst. 72. Establishing a time-line of word recognition: Evidence from eye movements and event-related potentials. (1998). The lexical bases of comprehension skill. S. 57-82). & Kutas. L. Language-related ERPs: Scalp distributions and modulation by word-type and semantic priming.. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. A.. 31. (2003). References Barnea. Reading skill: Some adult comparisons.and low-frequency words in adult normal and dyslexic readers: An event-related brain potential study. 1211-1214. Addressing misallocation of variance in principal components analysis of evoked potentials. A. The cognitive neurosciences (pp. & Francis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. W. 99-116. Behavior Research Methods. H.. The key idea is that effective experiences with words—the multiple encounters with a word that lead to an abstracted representation of form and meaning—is what creates reading skill. and weakness in this knowledge will negatively affect word-level comprehension. (1998). ERP evidence for the time course of graphic. E.. Instruments. more highly skilled comprehenders are better at learning new meanings and more sensitive to the episodic status of a word. Event-related potentials: A methods handbook (pp. S. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.. 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To introduce the issues seen in the study of bilingual comprehension. These processes can serve as a starting point for the study of bilingual comprehension. provide frameworks for the key component processes of comprehension and their interrelationships. Our review is far from comprehensive. and textual processes that compete for attention and memory resources (and fill up diagrams in models of comprehension) are executed with ease and without notice. 3. (2005). as for the monolingual. semantic. Here. This framework reflects a body of research largely undertaken without the slightest notice that some comprehenders might be able to engage more than one language. Introduction to section II: Comprehension. That is. Text representation: How the meanings of clauses and sentences are integrated into a coherent representation of an extended discourse. A. a platform to view problems of bilingual comprehension. Parsing: How words and morphemes are configured into phrasal units that govern interpretation. Of course. 5. however. M. In J.. Ignoring the physical properties of speech and print. 4. an L2 brings added complexity to an already rather complex problem. Reviews of spoken language comprehension and written language comprehension by Cutler and Clifton (1999) and Perfetti (1999). a more-or-less veridical representation of a token discourse. A Perfetti. 173-177). Understanding: How all the above function to yield actual comprehension." All the lexical. respectively. in all of these processes. 2. for the skilled bilingual.-it reflects the consensus view of comprehension from the perspective of research in monolingual contexts. which factors influence the success of L2 comprehension? The chapters in this part provide an overview of the research on some of the levels of bilingual comprehension.Tokowicz. the machinery of comprehension may be so skillfully engaged that only the most clever of experimental designs can expose any confusion or difficulty. F. This may be part of the reason for an unevenness seen in the extent to which The Processes of Comprehension The component processes of language comprehension and the ways they are interconnected provide 173 . Handbook of bilingualism: Psycholinguistic approaches (pp. We then describe some of the relevant research conducted on bilinguals for each aspect of comprehension.). N. Introduction to Part Comprehension T he goal for many aspiring bilinguals is successful communication in their second language (L2). Semantic-syntactic representations: How the meanings of words and the grammar of the language combine to provide the meaning of clauses and sentences. we simply provide an outlined description of some of the key components. syntactic. Language comprehension is complex from a scientific point of view. simplifies the problem of comprehension so that what we need to account for is merely the following: 1. including becoming able to comprehend spoken and written messages. C. On the other hand. focusing on only a few major issues in each area and pointing to the chapters of this section for more detailed reviews. For a competent speaker. Such may not be the case for the learner of an L2 or perhaps even for the moderately skilled bilingual. Kroll & A. For the bilingual. we first outline a general framework for comprehension processes. B. Finally. de Sroot (Eds. New York: Oxford University Press. Word identification: How words are identified such that their context-appropriate meanings are selected. there can be individual differences that produce variability in comprehension skill. no small matter. comprehension is "a piece of cake.

Although it seems intuitively reasonable to skilled bilinguals that they can effectively "turn off" or attenuate one of their languages. The dominance of LI syntactic structures in L2 comprehension was also evident in research by Tokowicz and MacWhinney (2002). Thus. chapter 3). How to explain parsing in the first language (LI) has proved to be difficult and contentious. Their review includes a summary of the issues that have been tackled with models. there is much more to say about bilingual word-level processes than higher-level comprehension processes. the research by now suggests that this seldom happens. how to attach a word to the current representation of a sentence? Theories that stress basic principles of simplicity and theories that stress more complex multiple constraints offer rather different solutions to this question. who showed that Japanese and Arabic speakers of English as a second language have opposite difficulties in processing English as a result of different native language structures. From this point. the details become interesting. One hears a word with Dutch phonology or with French phonology. This competition exposes basic assumptions about language processes that can be hidden when each model addresses a different problem. As Dijkstra (chapter 9) demonstrates. Tokowicz and MacWhinney (in press) found that these learners showed brain responses (measured by event-related potentials) that indicated more . The critical issue of how words are recognized by bilinguals recently has received much attention because of the precision available in mathematical models. see Francis. chapter 12). these issues include neighborhood effects. a person's LI can indicate which particular syntactic structures will be difficult to comprehend in L2. Beyond the representational details of models. the question becomes even more difficult. we may conclude that word form information is most likely stored in a shared way (or at least in a way that allows sufficient cross talk between the two languages. task demands will influence whether there appears to be selective or nonselective access of word forms in the two languages. bottom-up factors such as stimulus list composition and task demands make a difference for bilingual word recognition.174 Comprehension component processes and their relationships have been addressed in bilingual research. and homograph/cognate effects. Thomas and Van Heuven (chapter 10) provide a review of the two major types of computational models used in this area. So. Also. In the case of an L2. Given the above results and others. Although we are far from a complete model of bilingual comprehension. and a comprehender with the required language skill identifies the word accordingly. Bilingual word recognition has made great advances in the recent past as a result of the available models. A classic question is whether word form information for the two languages is stored together or separately. how does a learner of a second language go about deciding how to attach a word to a current sentence representation? Frenck-Mestre (chapter 13) reviews some of the recent research on bilingual parsing. is the value of building competing models that address the same problems. who showed that native English speakers learning Spanish had difficulty rejecting Spanish sentences with grammatical errors when the word-by-word translation mapped directly to an acceptable English structure." but not quite turned off. The grammar of the L2 is not as well represented as that of the LI in most cases. A similar conclusion was reached by Fender (2003). Two of the chapters in this part relate to the study of bilingual word identification. In particular. It is axiomatic that these inputs are linguistically specific. Parsing Listeners and readers must do something with the words they hear and see to construct messages. Furthermore. How do comprehenders decide. In particular. Perhaps one language can be "turned down. on a word-by-word basis. however. she considers the evidence that bilinguals use information from their LI to process their L2. top-down information. progress in computational modeling comes from models designed for specific problems rather than for general purposes. Word Identification Word identification entails lexical access through phonological and printed inputs. priming. such as the knowledge that only one of your languages is needed for a given task is not sufficient and can be overridden by the bottom-up information (see also MacWhinney. localist and distributed models. Thomas and Van Heuven suggest that joining localist and distributed models will further our understanding of bilingual comprehension. however. As mentioned. Building phrasal units from strings of words and connecting these units with each other in the way allowed by the grammar of the language is a large part of this process.

syntactic-level processes that are the building blocks of comprehension. we would expect to see increased attention at least to the consequences for text representation of the lexical and syntactic processes that have been studied. in LI and L2. rather than differently. In answer to the question of whether cognates are stored in a special way relative to noncognates. 2000. the age at which an L2 word is learned has an impact on the word form-to-meaning connection that is the foundation of L2 comprehension. and object naming. This was true despite the participants' inability to distinguish grammatically acceptable and unacceptable sentences overtly. Text Representation and Integration (and Understanding) Text representation and integration is an area that has received relatively little attention in the psycho-linguistic literature on bilingualism and is not represented in the chapters in this part. Kroll. It is our impression that there is little in bilingual research that corresponds fully to this level of analysis. at the word level. does it matter "downstream" in the representation of sentence and clause meaning that a word read in L2 has also activated an LI word representation for a few . translations are just that. McDonald (1987) showed that English learners of Dutch declined in their use of word order (a valid English cue) and increased in their use of case inflection (a valid Dutch cue) to comprehend L2 sentences as their Dutch competence increased. They argue that cognates are treated as morphologically related words within a language and demonstrate that they follow the same priming pattern as such words. Interestingly. Both of these outcomes place comprehension at risk. evidence shows that non-proficient bilinguals initially comprehend L2 through an LI lens.and. in the classroom or abroad. it seems that the differences in meaning are few and far between. The result of these word identification and syntactic processes is a representation of meaning at the clausal and sentence levels. a parsing problem in reading a sentence in L2 must lead to one of two consequences—a breakdown in comprehension such that both the current sentence and subsequent sentences are misunderstood or a reflective repair that slows the comprehension process. it depends. Word identification brings access to word meanings and their associated concepts. although several chapters in this section focus on parts of it. 1988). Finally.. how words are represented in the memory of a bilingual has been a major question. Francis (chapter 12) provides evidence that translation equivalents in general are not treated as within-language synonyms. can be considered the basic unit of relational meaning in a text. but keeps the representation coherent. Another factor that has been shown to influence meaning representation is age of acquisition (AoA). Izura and Ellis (2002. well.. so we comment on these two together. corresponding to a proposition in theories of comprehension (Kinstsch. For example. & Van Hell. For the most part.Introduction to Part II 175 sensitivity to grammatical violations in their L2 (Spanish) when the constructions were formed similarly. Tokowicz. This is true also for the level of real understanding (fifth in our list of comprehension processes). This meaning representation. 2002. Are words from the two languages stored separately in their own language or connected together by their meaning similarity? Do translation equivalents activate identical meaning representations? Are cognate translations stored differently from noncognate translations? Each of these issues is addressed in this section. as always. for more information about the consequences of imprecise meaning overlap across languages). The basic answer to the first of these questions is. & Igoa. Sanchez-Casas. This pattern has been observed in several tasks. We suspect that the neglect results from the natural focus on word. Thus.g. 2001. Semantic-Syntactic Representations Representing meaning is central to comprehension at all levels. L2 words learned earlier are processed more rapidly than L-2. Sanchez-Casas and Garcia-Albea (chapter 11) conclude that there is preliminary evidence to support a special status for cognate representations. A single pool of semantic features most likely comprises the meanings of translation equivalents. In the long run. Whether translation equivalents activate exactly the same meaning may depend on the manner in which L2 was learned (e.words learned later. there are caveats. words that have the same meaning across languages (see Guasch. including translation recognition. 2004) showed that regardless of LI AoA. Suarez-Buratti. However. see De Groot. 1992. to a lesser extent. Generally. De Groot. 1992). and parsing builds groupings of words and morphemes into phrasal units that provide both reference and semantic relationships. spoken or written. and Tokowicz. Presumably. lexical decision. Similarly.

Van den Broek. English word recognition and word integration skills of native Arabic. A. will undoubtedly enhance the already-rich picture of what happens during bilingual language processing. positron emission tomography. Tokowicz. M. does sustained reading or listening to an L2 text build up some protection from this word-level interference? Beyond these basic questions about how text-level processes might interact with lexical and parsing processes is the application of text comprehension research tools to bilingual processing. R. &c MacWhinney. & Clifton. Having these added techniques. M. A. 50. These advances will allow researchers to pose questions other than those already asked. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University Park. N. (in press).. Brown & P. With recent applications of neuroimaging and electrophysiological techniques to the study of language processing. in part III on language production and control. and other factors that would apply to L2 comprehension as well as LI. (2003). at the same time. &C Ellis. Paper presented at the Fifth Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology. N. along with the advances in mathematical modeling. J. Brown 8t P. there are many individual difference that are likely to affect how one learns and processes an L2. 1988. 435-451.. 163-182. Behavior Research Methods. Are bilingual lexical representations interconnected. Psicologica.. Applied Psycholinguistics. Fender. we have even more methods to study bilingual comprehension. Similarly. G. A. Spain. 379-A14. A. 8.. Tokowicz. Izura. Number-of-translation norms for Dutch-English translation pairs: A new tool for examining language production. Suarez-Buratti. (1999). & Linderholm. Oxford. 245-281. Guasch. Sanchez-Casas. and event-related potentials. 1999). The role of knowledge in discourse processing: A construction-integration model. N. Implicit and explicit measures of sensitivity to .. B. A. &C Van Hell. Izura. In C. (2002). M. ultimately. (2002).. The Pennsylvania State University. The converging evidence from this set of increasingly diverse methods is likely to encourage the development of models of bilingual comprehension that are more complete and. B. B..176 Comprehension milliseconds? Moreover. Psychological Review. References Cutler. J. Applied Psycholinguistics. Comprehending spoken language: A blueprint of the listener. (2001). 1999) can be sensitive to limitations in working memory. Canada. (1992. (2004). 18. 167-208). Kintsch. 165-181. 1001-1018. England: Oxford University Press. Paris. &C MacWhinney. and Cognition. B. plus others (Perfetti. Furthermore. (1988). B. M. The neurocognition of language (pp. The neurocognition of language (pp. (2000). 34. April). W. Paper presented at the Forty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the International Linguistic Association. Age of acquisition effects in word recognition and production in first and second languages. Kintsch. M. De Groot.). motivational factors can also have an impact on an individual's success in L2 learning and. and Computers. M. Meaning representation within and across languages. September). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning. C. working memory capacity and suppression) on L2 processing. better capture the implications for general models of language comprehension that in the past have focused on monolingual experience alone. Instruments. Tarragona. Hagoort (Eds. N. F. Forma y significado en el procesamiento lexico de bilingues del castellano y del Catalan. Tokowicz. Determinants of word translation.. Young. Sentence interpretation in bilingual speakers of English and Dutch. comprehension. For example. Perfetti. Kroll. Tokowicz. Judging grammatical acceptability in L2: Competing grammatical systems in the second language learner. 23. Toronto. and some of these appear to lie in LI abilities. W. provide an overview of research on the effects of LI processing skill (e. & Ellis. Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Hagoort (Eds.. England: Oxford University Press. Michael and Gollan (chapter 19).). C.and Japanese-speaking learners of English as a second language. 289-315. & Igoa. De Groot. Age of acquisition effects in translation judgment tasks. Tzeng. these differences arise from such components as we reviewed above. 123-166). E. such as functional magnetic resonance imaging. (1999). W. Unpublished master's thesis. C. Individual Differences Comprehension processes in LI show wide-ranging individual differences in adults and children. J. 95. Oxford. A. 24. (1987).g. McDonald. (2002. readers' knowledge and goals. L. J. Memory. In C. C.. Journal of Memory and Language. (1992).g. computational models of comprehension (e. Comprehending written language: A blueprint of the reader.

& Linderholm. NJ: Erlbaum.Introduction to Part II 177 violations in second language grammar: An event-related potential investigation [Special issue]..).. In H. Y. R. Tzeng. Goldman (Eds. P. 71-98). Mahwah. The construction of mental representations during reading (pp. (1999). van Oostendorp &c S. . Studies in Second Language Learning. Young. M. T. The landscape model of reading: Inferences and the on-line construction of a memory representation. Van den Broek..

Gorfien (Ed.. C/7 fAe consequences of meaning selection: Perspectives on resolving lexical ambiguity {pp. the natural privilege in the genesis of the recurrent accumulation of skill belonged to the lexical processes. was not just the usual conundrum that blocks causal inferences from correlational data but was intrinsically part of how skill is acquired in reading: Lexical skills allow comprehension. The core idea was that many—not all—problems in comprehension arose from ineffective lower level processes needed for the identification of words. Perfetti and Lesley Hart How shall we understand the source of individual variation in comprehension skill? What is it that skilled comprehenders do during reading that less-skilled readers do not do? Or vice versa: What do less-skilled readers do that skilled readers do not? In this chapter.Perfetti. Rapid and perhaps modular word identification was important for a comprehension system of limited capacity. even with a long list of studies with the same result. at least some of these differences arise from a foundational processing factor: the effectiveness of basic word identification skill.). The recurrent nature of component interactions in the process assured an intimate connection between lexical and comprehension skills. Perfetti (1985) suggested an answer to this question roughly as follows: Although skilled comprehenders differ from less-skilled comprehenders in a number of ways. C. The bases of this claim lay in a program of research that consistently found that when either children or adults were separated by their scores on a reading comprehension test. L (2001). comprehension allows reading practice. In D. roughly. does some part of this idea remain tenable? And what more specific instantiation of the general idea is now possible? In what follows. 67-86). 5 _______________ : _______ The Lexical Basis of Comprehension Skill Charles A. The question we address here is. The lexical bases of comprehension skill. they sorted themselves also on their speed of written word and pseudoword identification. Fifteen years ago. A. it was more difficult to imagine being able to comprehend the texts without reading the words. So we summarized the relationship in the verbal efficiency theory. we first review the background of verbal efficiency theory and then illustrate the concept of lexical quality and the lexical quality 67 . we revisit this question from a long-range perspective coupled with some new research. reading practice strengthens lexical skills. Washington. we believe. DC: American Psychological Association. S. This problem. & Hart. Although it was possible to imagine being able to read words without comprehending the texts that contain them. Nevertheless. the causal connection between the lexical process variability and the comprehension variability could not be established. Of course. and so on.

This idea was developed further in a theory of reading acquisition by reference to lexical specificity and redundancy (Perfetti. whose outcomes. Thus a 'name' without meaning and a meaning without a 'name' are both low quality" (Perfetti. Verbal Efficiency and Lexical Knowledge In its earlier formulation. in this account. of codes that are part of a stored linguistic symbol. However. pp.. the processing is inefficient" (p. And "to the extent retrieval is effortful and the retrieved codes low in quality. 118). Carpenter. Both of these hypotheses have received ample attention in research.versus two-mechanism alternatives. 1994) has tended to ignore lexical factors. the additional linguistic step in reading—mapping an orthographic form onto a lexical representation—could make the problem more noticeable in reading than in listening. including some nonobvious ones.68 PERFETTI AND HART hypothesis.g. its source was lexical processing efficiency. A lexical representation has high quality to the extent that it has a fully specified orthographic representation (a spelling) and redundant phonological representations (one from spoken language and one recoverable from orthographic-to-phonological mappings).. So the unparsimonious two-factor theory may be required: (a) limitations in word identification efficiency and (b) limitations in functional working memory (perhaps with a phonological component). p.. Perfetti (1985) offered a one-factor conjecture based on linguistic code manipulation. The basic idea was that. The solution to the question of whether there are multiple low-level causes or a single one remains a difficult question. [This quality must be retained] long enough for subsequent processes to perform their work. are predicted by this hypothesis. it needs to account for two facts: (a) the pervasive association of lexical skills with comprehension skills in adults as well as children and (b) the association (only slightly less pervasive) of listening and reading comprehension skill. Research on adult comprehension focusing on memory differences (e. In the first. efficiency is the rapid retrieval. Lexical Quality The question of code quality. 1992). & Just. 1985. and in the second. from inactive memory. a low-quality code retrieved with effort would jeopardize comprehension processes that depend on a high-quality representation. the central ideas that link lower and higher level reading processes. its retrieval is more .. In discussing the single. Whether by spoken language or by written language. If it is to be a single mechanism. Miyake. The original suggestion was that the retrieval of a lexical representation is high in quality "to the extent that it contains both semantic and phonetic information sufficient to recover its memory location. becomes central. it was functional working memory (Perfetti. If a lexical representation is specific and redundant. The obvious problem here is that it is not straightforward to convert a fundamental problem in written word identification into a cause of listening comprehension problems. in any modality. 118). Then we summarize experiments on simple meaning judgments. although distinguishing them clearly has not seemed to be a high priority. verbal efficiency was elaborated in two compatible ways. 1985. 112-115).

a sentence is a noun phrase plus verb phrase (NP + VP). The specification of each is subject to constraints from a relevant system. the abstract grammatical frame that appears necessary to understand the production of speech (Bock & Levelt. and semantic (SE) specifications of the word. SE constituents reflect basic conceptual and grammatical constraints. Presented with the word incarcerate. however. OR. a word is an unordered triple of PH.) Similarly. Figure 5. a fragmented appearance of constituents and parts of constituents. we can stipulate that SE is actually a collection of meaning and grammatical information. Thus. Those involving phonology are of special interest in word identification but are beyond our purpose here. Consider the following examples: 1. for an example of constraints on phonology that may be relevant for reading.) The consequence of reliability is that multiple encounters with a given word tend to produce a common core representation consisting of a nexus of orthographic phonological and semantic information. . phonology ce. 1985. A reliable. as when an effortful speech recoding occurs followed by meaning retrieval. giving the impression of a unitary word perception event. the reader can pronounce it accurately and knows it has some negative meaning but is not sure what that meaning is. we mean that the constituents are available synchronously at retrieval. p. Analogously. We can now state the key idea about individual differences: People vary in the quality of their lexical representations. SE} specification. 1994). (The contrast is constituent asynchrony. all words are triples of {PH.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 69 likely to be coherent and reliable. Thus. The identification of the word is the retrieval of these constituents.1 represents a high-quality representation by indicating a tightly bonded set of word constituents: the orthographic (OR). One should be able to detect variation in quality in a number of ways: For example. In general terms. it is a necessary or defining symbol. (See Berent & Shimron. OR. is incomplete in the cat example. To put it approximately. it includes the lemma. A constituent in a linguistic or algebraic representation is not merely a part of a larger whole. Any representation that does not specify the value of one of its constituents is low quality. Thus. the lexical representation of the word cat is the (unitary) linguist object such that it has spelling C-A-T. 1997. Confusion about word meaning and word form is minimized by high-quality representations. a variable. One consequence of the constituent idea is that it encourages the view that the word identity is both unitary and compositional. and a conceptual structure that links to the lemma. phonological (PH). see Perfetti. The SE constituent. to say component or level—a common reference in hierarchical models. because it ignores grammatical information. 114. It is useful to consider the implications of constituent as opposed. To avoid a fourth constituent. inconsistency in attempts to spell and hesitant or effortful retrieval of pronunciations or meanings reflect low-quality representations. and meaning (whatever it is that cat means). By coherent. major constituents that can assume specific values. these defining features of high quality allow the reader to get exactly the word that is printed rather than parts of it that may also be parts of other words. and SE. coherent. high-quality representation is retrieved easily and consistently.

for example. Lexical representations (for a literate mind) are triples of orthographic (OR). and semantic-syntactic (SE) constituents. Thus. PH. A reader can perform all the tasks failed variably in 1. gate is the word such that its OR. put in jail)}. (verb trans. The examples indicate several unreliable representations of the word {incarcerate [inkarsreyt]. . and 3 above but can spell the word correctly only on some attempts. 3.1. and SE constituents are specified as given in the diagram and mutually bonded into a unitary lexical object. although the reader has heard it pronounced and thus has some phonological representation. the reader sometimes produces incarcerate and sometimes something more like incarsate. is one familiar to many individuals of high literacy—the feeling of semantic and phonological competence coupled with a spelling block. These links are not to be understood as activation links. Case 4. A high-quality representation for the word gate. however. They will have differential consequences in different tasks. Case 1 may represent a skilled reader of limited experience who can "decode" a word that he or she does not really know. Here quality is indicated more crudely as concatenation links between constituents. 2.70 PERFETTI AND HART Figure 5. producing something like in-cark-rate. 2." When attempting to speak the word to produce a message about someone going to jail. Presented with incarcerate. Presented with incarcerate. the reader can pronounce it and indicate that it means something like "to confine in prison. phonological (PH). but as bonding links. Quality is the extent to which each constituent is fully specified (constants instead of variables for OR and PH form constituents) and conceptually and syntactically differentiated (for SE constituents). 4. the reader stumbles on its pronunciation.

Fortunately. cede. A less-skilled reader is one who has fewer high-quality word representations. in addition to having foundational resources (decoding. to detect unreliability of word representations. There are few cases in English. Examining the genesis of the number of quality word representations is another matter. Example: seed. 1998). This is the most general case and has been the staple of research addressing meaning selection process. Quality is at risk because there is a lack of one-to-one mapping among one or more form and meaning constituents. spelling. Homography: one OR form. listening. one PH form. multiple meanings. What skilled readers have are foundational resources to help retrieve impoverished representations and add information (about spelling. The gain in this analysis is the focus on words: It is not individuals. Illustrating the basic idea with a low-frequency word generalizes it. single PH form.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 71 One thing should be made clear. and this continuum is bisected when researchers refer to skilled and less-skilled readers. Example: count (1. basic and explicit phonological knowledge supports early progress in reading. but word representations. 2. and indeed these are rare across writing systems. progress in understanding lexical knowledge and especially in relating it to comprehension skill requires more individual (readerand word-specific) assessment than is typical in research. and writing promotes more high-quality word representations. and subsequent practice in reading. speaking. feudal title). one may need more than one sample of easy-to-give recognition tests for spelling or multiple-choice vocabulary tests. Homophones and Lexical Quality Words with multiple meanings on single forms are interesting because they risk lexical quality. . This has been the staple of research on phonological processes and has been relatively neglected in research on meaning selection. Homophony: two OR forms. is one who has many high-quality word representations. Whatever the source of variation in any set of individuals. As a general methodological point. pronunciation. given these examples. One can capture the possibilities of form-meaning divergence more simply by defining a two-way classification of phonological and orthographic sameness. voice or instrument of the lower pitch. two PH forms. the key idea is that there is a continuum of lexical knowledge. Ambiguity: single OR form. 3. For example. enumeration. 2. This rarity is consistent with the universal privilege gained by phonology as a reliable mapping for orthography (Perfetti & Tan. Certainly. Even skilled readers have low-quality representations for some words. type of fish). Example: bass (1. A skilled reader. the kind of assessment we have in mind can be crudely approximated by such tests as a starting point. and grammatical skills). There are three possibilities: 1. or meaning) to those representations. 2. that vary in quality.

But that leads to infelicitous phrasing. in the usual sense. such as homographic homophones. Or. Reading the more frequent member of a pair of homophones may occur without leading to access of the less-frequent member of the pair. for gate. both. Thus gait. we prefer the three-way classification above. no meaning. along with their different meanings.72 PERFETTI AND HART Ambiguity is then same phonology and same orthography.1 These are not low-quality representations because they are specified as fully as they can be. Not only is word frequency an important determinant of word processing. and the confusion will be of no real consequence for comprehension. 1978).1 by adding the word gait. a pronunciation. & Rayner. more carefully. Morris. So. can be partially activated by a spelling. Now there is the increased potential of confusion beyond what one might see from a nonhomophone. this frequency result is a consequence of the benefits of experience for the higher frequency meaning. are context-dependent in a way that orthographic and phonological forms are not. So the case for a skilled reader is that the written presentation of homophones can lead to the activation (retrieval) of two words. Meaning is relatively indeterminate at the lexical level. Frequency must be taken into account. confusion also can result even though the spelling uniquely identifies the word. It should be no different from a control word. Context will select the right one. This is because the representation for gait. a single phonological specification links to two spellings and two meanings.2 or in our discussion to this point. Thus. a more typical case might be a reader with an unreliable low-quality representation for gait. leading to momentary activation. Although each orthographic specification is associated with a unique meaning specification (at least for our purposes). or a meaning when gate is presented. According to the lexical quality hypothesis. 1988. the only problem with. it is even stronger for the less-skilled reader. Imagine a reader whose skill is low enough that the word gait is completely unknown. but it is specifically implicated in disambiguating processes.2 expands the representations of Figure 5. Figure 5. despite being beyond dispute as to its identity. J One important feature of meaning is not represented in Figure 5. and nonhomophonic homographs. However. gait and gate might be activated. a finding that has long been observed in research with ordinary semanti-cally ambiguous words (Duffy. they can be considered the limiting case: high-quality word knowledge characteristic of a skilled reader. the momentary retrieval of these representations can yield confusion. no matter how impoverished. Meanings. even for skilled readers as Gernsbacher and Faust (1991a) have shown. in reading. If one encounters the spoken form [geyt]. If the potential for confusion exists for the skilled reader. Although the representations are as good as they can be. There is potential for confusion here. a low-quality representation could be observed for gait. nonhomographic homophones. gate is due to its representation quality independent of gait. According to the lexical quality assumption. can cause its homophonic partner gate to be activated. one that is not a homophone. or for both. Less obviously. . Hogaboam & Perfetti. Semantic specification is no more than referential pointers or category indicators. No spelling. This reader has no confusion when gate is presented. To illustrate how homophones place stress on lexical representations.

The bonding links of Figure 5. The similarity relation between the two words arises from connections between their PH constituents rather than from some shared PH component. if we consider word representation quality to be distributed across individuals the way we have suggested. Note the two words do not share a constituent. then high-frequency words may be less a source of confusion for skilled readers than for less-skilled readers. with stronger links represented by thicker lines.1 are replaced by activation links (nondirectional). The idea is that each word in an autonomous lexicon strives to maintain a unique identity. making it a more stable part of the word. the high-frequency word gate has stronger internal activation links than the lower frequency word gait. who differ substantially by college age in the amount of reading they have done. Functional Identifiability and Context The basic idea illustrated in Figure 5.2. Representations for gate and gait as lexical processing units. a word that is functionally high frequency for a skilled reader may be functionally a low-frequency word for a less-skilled reader. The orthographic (OR) and phonological (PH) links are stronger in both than other links.3.3 is functional identifiability. compared with the lower frequency meaning. Thus. Familiarity (functional frequency) can be considered a proxy for identifiability. This is because a word that is high frequency according to a corpus count may have rather different functional frequency characteristics for skilled and less-skilled readers. A word is identifiable to the extent a reader has had sufficient experience with the word so as to allow its constituents to be fully specified and linked.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 73 Figure 5. We illustrate this point in Figure 5. Moreover. For a given reader. . Thus.

Then. Thus. the skill of the reader. or the visibility of the stimulus. Hypothetical lexical activation functions. there was variability in the constraint provided by context. And for a given word. one does not need to know the frequency of the word. Across conditions. For a less-skilled reader. In other words. the more rapid function is for a higher frequency word and the delayed function is for a lower frequency words. and reading skill. For a given word. one needs to know only the time it takes to identify the word in isolation. word frequency word degrading (varied to examine bottom-up stimulus effects). Perfetti and Roth (1981) summarized data from several conditions across experiments on the relationship between word naming in context and reading skill.3. Equivalently. For . SOA = stimulus onset asynchrony. the activation and deactivation occur more slowly. words and readers are interchangeable in the identifiability functions. a skilled reader will show a more rapid activation function than a less-skilled reader. This general function accounts for certain facts about individual differences. The result was a strong linear relationship between the time to identify the word in isolation and the time to identify it in context. given a reader. There is an empirical basis for this interchangeability assumption. the function for a skilled reader rises rapidly and deactivates accordingly. all these critical variables were ignored so as to examine the relationship between the time to identify a word in context as a function of the time to identify the same word in isolation. To predict the time to identify the word in context.74 PERFETTI AND FIART Activation Functions for Iirelewant V\fcrcJ 40 Z Oao -M*e 94llec l! Q10 < 0 0 50 150 480 1000. a functionally high-frequency word has a more rapid activation function—reaching an identification threshold more quickly—than a low-frequency word. 2D00 3000 4000 TIIVE(9C^ Figure 5.

because a skilled reader has higher quality representations for more words than does a less-skilled reader. The relationship between reading skill and homophone confusion effects should have different time courses and should show different frequency effects. whose knowledge of the high-frequency member of the pair (e. although it is not required by our analysis of the process of homophone meaning selection.g. this same assumption—that the skilled reader has better quality representations of homophones as for all words—leads to the assumption that this confusion will be short lived. activation will spread more quickly from the one to the other. In . We leave open the possible operation and failure of a suppression mechanism.. The Lexical Quality Hypothesis To summarize. has lower quality representations for both the higher and lower frequency member of a homophone pair. we need to assume that gait is partially represented. Stanovich & West. For this to occur. We have.g. gate and gait) are more identifiable for the skilled reader. For the less-skilled reader. The presentation of a high-frequency member of the pair will now allow confusion. A skilled reader. by assumption.. who... West & Stanovich. word frequency) to be complete. confusion should build more slowly (because of a lower functional identifiability of both homophones) and release more slowly. Compare this with a less-skilled reader. the basis for some nonobvious predictions about homophone confusions. Goldman.g. not entirely absent. the mutual activation of homophones should occur more quickly than for the less-skilled reader. Because its functional identifiability is lower than it is for the high skilled reader. then. For the low-frequency member of the pair {e. the fact that identification times of less-skilled readers are aided more by context than are skilled readers is because their identification times are slower for the same words in isolation (Perfetti. 1978).LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 75 example. The theoretical implication of these observations is that the identifiability of words in isolation can be a basis of predictions about comprehension of text segments that contain these words. The presented word will quickly have more activation than its unpresented homophone mate. gait). 1981. so the presentation of gait allows confusion activation to spread to the better known gate before comprehension of gait is complete. However. gate) is of very high quality. this allows activation of gate to spread to the incomplete representation of gait. This can lead to a homophone confusion more quickly for a skilled reader than for a less-skilled reader. should show little interference from a presentation of that high-frequency word. & Hogaboam. The effect of word frequency is also implicated by this analysis. and this can vary for the same word across readers and for the same reader across words. Because both members of a homophone pair (e. we have reintroduced a theoretical framework that has organized observations about individual differences in reading comprehension. The functional identifiability is critical. It also means that we cannot expect variables defined only at the reader level or only at the objective text level (e. This description referring to confusion and release from confusion is more general (and more theoretically neutral) than one referring to suppression (Gernsbacher & Faust. 1979. First. the skilled reader's representation is of lower quality.g. 1991a).

the key questions center on readers'judgments that two words are related in meaning. they are responsible for automaticity (or at least efficiency) of word identification." According to the lexical quality hypothesis. which put additional pressure on lexical representations to be of high quahty. our samples are drawn from college students across a wide range of comprehension skill. which is what we have done in the study summarized below. More importantly. However. the participant's decision should be "yes". which is what allows processing resources to be devoted to higher level comprehension. which make their critical constituents available more coherently and reliably. When presented with the word king followed by the word royalty. The decision is "no" as it is for evening-royalty. and semantics (and syntax). orthography. especially the encoding and integration of propositions." Meaning Decisions In the meaning decision experiment. Homophone processing should vary among readers of varying skill in systematic ways that reflect lexical quality. And it is possible to draw out the implications of the lexical quahty hypothesis for processing homophones. The main study uses simple word-pair decisions. with less confusion. In its subsequent and current elaborations. the decision should be "no. However. In both studies. word-level efficiency allows processing resources to be directed to comprehension. Experimental Support for the Hypothesis A test of the implications of the lexical quality hypothesis comes from two studies of meaning decisions. providing the main support for the lexical quality hypothesis. efficiency of word identification remains an important part of the explanation. In this form of the theory.76 PERFETTI AND HART its earlier form. it is not to be understood as fundamentally about speed of processing or even resource allocation but rather about the quality of lexical representations—detailed knowledge about word forms and meanings. Assessments of individual differences have seldom been thorough enough to test the^role of lexical quality against alternative hypotheses of comprehension differences. and we expect po- . High-qualuy representations are what drive rapid processing. A second study examines decisions in sentence contexts. assessed by a time-limited version of the Nelson—Denny Reading Comprehension Test. This is because skilled readers have higher quality lexical representations. We refer to higher scoring students as "skilled readers" and lower scoring students as "less-skilled readers. The quality of lexical representations can be defined reasonably well in terms of the full specification of word constituent information: triples of phonology. in which only word form is informative. the theory focused on the efficiency of lexical processes as a causal component in comprehension variability. But night is a homophone. Consider now the word night followed by the word royalty. skilled readers should be faster than less-skilled readers in both the "yes" and the "no" judgments. it is possible to approximate some of these assessments with traditional assessments of lexical processing. for evening followed by royalty.

This means for control words as well as homophones. In particular. king—dark. are less good at comprehension. even when the sentence is intended to be unhelpful for this purpose. we can also describe the presentation sequence in terms of an initial (target) duration plus an interstimulus interval (ISI): 150-ms SOA. if less-skilled readers use context more to support reading. Experiment 3) found that both skilled readers and less-skilled readers were slowed in decisions to the homophone sentence at the shorter of two intervals between sentence and probe (450-500 ms between sentence final-word onset and probe onset). such as He had lots of patients. they may try to use the sentence to support word identification. and (b) skilled readers should show confusions mainly for the less-frequent member of a homophone pair.350 to 1. 450-.400 ms between sentence final-word onset and probe onset). only less-skilled readers showed longer decision times. and then decided whether a probe word was related to the sentence meaning. At a longer interval (1. there is some risk of their performance in a sentence task to reflect comprehension strategies in interaction with word knowledge. We think our word meaning decision task is tapping some of the same processing as the sentence task. 450-ms SOA. Gernsbacher and Faust (1991a. night-dark. However. We are not assessing sentence comprehension. The first word always disappeared prior to the presentation of the probe.000-ms stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). So it might take longer to make a decision. and evening-dark— a full comparison of "yes" and "no" meaning judgments for homophones and nonhomophone controls. target duration = 100 ms. and 2. less-skilled readers should show slower decisions across the board. as the evidence suggests. target duration = 350 ms. but confusion can arise from the homophone patience. participants viewed sentences. In their study.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 77 tential confusion to arise because its phonology is shared with knight. whereas less-skilled readers should also show confusions for the more frequent member of the pair. Let us consider for a moment what we are not doing in the meaning decision task. ISI = 50 ms. . To complete the picture. of course. and 2. Each of these results received strong support in the experiment. a task used by Gernsbacher and Faust (1991a) to examine skill differences in homophone processing.000-ms 3 Because less-skilled readers. The time between the onset of the first word (the target) and the onset of the second (the probe) was varied at three values: 150-. Thus. one should see the basic cost of lower quality representations. In fact. it requires attention to word form only. it demands that the decision be made only on the word form. consider the time course. Second. It allows no additional confusion to arise from sentence comprehension processes beyond the word level. readers were slower to reject calm following a sentence with a homophone than following a sentence with a nonhomophone control word {He had lots of students). recall that we suggested two predictions concerning homophones from the lexical quality hypothesis: (a) Skilled readers should show homophone confusions sooner than less-skilled readers. The probe word calm should be given a "no" response here. ISI = 100 ms. relative to control sentences. by definition. First. Thus. we want to know about knight-royalty. making for a more direct test of a hypothesis based on lexical knowledge.2 What results do we expect on the basis of the lexical quality hypothesis? First.

less-skilled readers showed reliable interference at 450 ms only. 800 01 700 600 150 2000 450 2000 150 450 Less-Skilled SOA (ms) More-Skilled Figure 5. target duration = 350 ms. In defining reader skill groups. . and for other purposes. remained viewable until the participant responded. ISI = 1. But we excluded participants in the middle of this distribution to focus on the more highly contrastive groups of skilled and less-skilled readers. Skilled readers showed reliable homophone interference at 150 ms only.78 PERFETTI AND HART 1000 900 ►-Homophone -o- Control £. However. we first administered the comprehension test to 300 undergraduates. the high-skill group were 44 participants in the top third of this distribution. our assumption is that we are dealing with a continuum of reading skill.) The 450-ms SOA approximates the shorter of the two ISI intervals used by Gernsbacher and Faust (1991a) to allow a comparison. RT = reaction time. the low-skill group were 38 participants with scores in the bottom third of the distribution. Decision times for homophone and control words across three stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs) for skilled and less-skilled readers.4 shows the main results for two groups of participants defined by their scores on time-limited version of the Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension Test. We carried out the experiment over a fuller range of comprehension skill that included 119 participants. SOA. For the experiment. the probe. as is common in individual-differences research. (The second word. we can include the whole set of 119 participants.650 ms.4. Figure 5.

Along . Note that there is a small and unreliable difference remaining at 2.000 ms for the less-skilled readers. Although this result may seem obvious enough. it is important theoretically. However. The less-skilled readers showed no homophone confusion (beyond their confusion for control words) at 150 ms. Skilled readers show no reliable homophone interference effect at any stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). The homophone effect disappeared by 450 ms and did not return. As is usually the case. By 2. they showed release from confusion. they did at 450 ms. however. As a word is activated. In relation to control words. nonsignificant differences can be traced to individual reader and word differences that affect variance estimates. Decision time difference scores (homophones-controls) for high-frequency words. For now. the general lexicon of skilled readers contains more high-quality representations than that of the less-skilled readers.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 79 Figure 5. All other lexically based differences. First. Two main things can be seen in Figure 5. the general point is that rapid confusion leads to rapid release and delayed confusion leads to delayed release. According to the lexical quality hypothesis. And indeed homophone differences are seen. arise from this fact. its identification occurs at a sufficiently high level of activation. as predicted. The rapid confusion-release pattern is characteristic of the skilled readers and the delayed confusion-release pattern is characteristic of the less-skilled readers. skilled readers showed longer decision times at the shortest SOA of 150 ms. less-skilled readers are slower than skilled readers on control words. we return to these in the next section.000 ms. Less-skilled readers show a reliable homophone effect at 450 ms only.5.5. Because such differences are the heart of individual-differences research. including those from homophones. A highly general acti-vation-deactivation function is sufficient to explain this pattern.

These results not only are consistent with the assumptions of the lexical quality hypothesis but also provide evidence for specific nonobvious predictions concerning the time course of homophone confusion and differential patterns for high and low frequency. Less-skilled comprehenders take longer to show confusion and.5 shows the results for high-frequency words and Figure 5.000 ms. the effect is above zero (especially at 450 ms). Figure 5. as predicted. difference scores between decision times to homophones and controls are shown.5 shows that homophone confusion for high-frequency words occurred at the middle SOA (450 ms) for less-skilled readers. although we qualify this conclusion below. One is the more rapid confusion and more rapid release from confusion shown by skilled readers. and thus have little opportunity to show a confusion that is specific to homophones. they are probably confused by gait as well. To put these results in terms of our gate I gait example. Less skilled readers show no reliable homophone confusion. 1990. Less-skilled readers are confused by gate. but in a more complex way.3 No additional mechanism such as suppression failure (Gernsbacher. activation can spread to other words that have formal or semantic links to it. where one sees the largest difference between controls and homophones in Figure 5.6 shows the results for low-frequency words. whereas skilled readers show confusion at the shortest SOA.5 and 5. . about 1350-1400 ms after the final word of a sentence. Gernsbacher & Faust. but they generally did show release from confusion by 2 s. but they are also confused by stride. (We again see a nonsignificant difference at 2.) No reliable homophone confusion occurred for skilled readers at any SOA. We are developing computational models that can stimulate meaning decision data. It appears that confusion may not be a permanent affliction for many less-skilled readers. which is maintained at 450 ms before releasing. Figure 5. In particular. a different pattern can be seen in Figure 5. A second is that the less-skilled readers not only showed a slower confusion. 1991a) is needed. accordingly. and simply processing any less-familiar word absorbs the effect that otherwise can be seen for homophones. Deactivation of nonidentified words occurs naturally in this process. a low-frequency control word. 150 ms. A confusion effect is represented by a score above the zero baseline.6. 3 The process that produces the confusion effect in meaning decisions is not entirely clear. For low-frequency words. A second prediction concerns word frequency. In both Figures 5. Although our discussion has not explicitly taken this process into account. We think this effect is small because less skilled readers' problems with low-frequency words are very general. take longer to show release from it. Less-skilled readers' decision times for low-frequency control words across the three SOAs was around 900 ms for the shortest and longest SOAs and about 830 ms at 450-ms SOA. including homophone interference effects. the probe word should reinitiate activation of the presented word and possible reactivation of its homophone. The temporal pattern has two interesting elements. Obviously this "backward priming" possibility applies equally to probes following sentences.6.6. in both "no" and "yes" responses. the same activation and deactivation concepts will apply. Gernsbacher and Faust (1991a) found that less-skilled readers showed confusion at a shorter interval. skilled readers are confused by gait but not gate.80 PERFETTI AND HART the way. Although the interference effect is small and unreliable for less skilled readers.

Skilled readers show reliable homophone interference effect at both 150 and 450 ms. In the course of carrying out this study. SOA = stimulus onset asynchrony.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 81 80 JL © 40 o c I 0Q -40 150 2000 450 2000 SOA (ms) 150 450 © Less-Skilled More-Skilled Figure 5. we focus on the assessments for just the 119 participants who made the timed meaning decision . we may be able" to find further evidence. we obtained assessments of comprehension skill and lexical knowledge for some 445 students. Less-skilled readers show no reliable homophone interference. Lexical Knowledge and Meaning Decisions If it is true that the sources of the comprehension skill differences lie in lexical knowledge. Although this larger group provides confirming evidence for the interrelationships among various lexical and comprehension skills. Decision time difference scores (homophones-controls) for low-frequency words.6.

Instead they are generally multiple-choice tests that assess the student's ability to select. .judgments.g. orthographic. and vocabulary that serve as rough indicators of an individual's knowledge of phonological. Instead of thorough assessments about the specific words used in the meaning decision task. for example.. Can we predict meaning decision times from some of these assessments? Our assessments were crude judged by the standards we have suggested in this chapter. An exception is that our test of phonological decoding requires the participant to decode a pseudoword. and their assessment did not usually meet the standard (e. actual spelling and actual meaning analysis) we think is appropriate for careful assessments of lexical quality. decoding. a correct spelling or meaning. we have general tests of spelling. and semantic constituents of a general sample of words. The tested words were not the words of the decision task.

. The general results for reading skill are what would be expected. The deep Arctic Ocean is inhabited by ___________ (a) wails (b) whales. 2. and indeed skilled readers showed early homophone confusion at 150 ms. there are some possibly interesting individual differences rather than mere "error" in the tendency for less-skilled readers to show a nonreliable homophone-control difference at the longest SOA (see Figure 5. 5. along with a handful of others that were reliable. Difference scores show modest correlations when the major factor in reading skill—the abihty to identify words—has already been removed. Equally interesting is the fact the continuation of confusion at the longest SOA is negatively correlated with pseudoword decoding speed.phigh). A multiple-choice. This merely confirms what has been found before: Comprehension skill. Do some less-skilled readers also show early homophone confusion? The answer is yes. based on a computerized adaptation of the Word Identification Subtest of the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery. even in adults. Accuracy and naming times were collected on all but the first two tasks. For example. the hypothesis predicts more rapid homophone confusion as a function of identification skill. and it tends to be those who have higher decoding skill. For example.4).g. deleting a phoneme. is associated with lexical skill. Items were presented one at a time. A phoneme manipulation test. The test orders items in difficulty from very easy (e.82 PERFETTI AND HAKT In brief. Nonetheless. 4. 3. This correlation. For example. But what about less-skilled readers? A key idea in the lexical quality hypothesis is that there is a continuum of skill and a continuum of functional word identifi-ability. based on a computerized adaptation of the Word Attack Subtest of the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoed-ucational Battery. rapid homophone confusion—a homophone effect at 150 ms— is positively correlated with pseudoword decoding speed.g. The lexical quality hypothesis leads to some more specific predictions.1. and only the total number correct was measured on the vocabulary test. In effect. timed vocabulary test. however. A homophone discrimination test. Skilled readers' performance reliably exceeded that of less-skilled readers on all measures. 6. in which the participants chose from five alternatives. is shown in Table 5. our tests were as follows: 1.. hap) to more difficult (e.1 are quire modest. Items were presented one at a time. stay without the It/. as measured by the assessment of pseudoword reading. Only accuracy was measured for the phoneme manipulation test. but it must be emphasized that what is being correlated is a difference score: performance on homophones minus performance on controls. A multiple-choice spelling test. Although some participants indeed showed release from . Thus. in which participants repeated a word. A word identification test. A pseudoword-decoding test. The correlations in Table 5. in which participants chose which of two homophone fit into a sentence. one sees only the residual effect of homophone confusion.

000 ms. the correlations further suggest that even the "error" in the data is systematically related to measures of lexical processing that are related to the lexical quality assumptions in sensible ways. Correlations of Lexical Variables With Homophone Interference (Homophone-Control Reaction Times) at 150.and 2.000-ms -. The only difference was that a constraining sen- . we may see a reduction of interference.1. If top-down comprehension strategies are available to less-skilled readers (Perfetti.38 .36 Note: All correlations. confusion by 2.05. we carried out a second meaning decision experiment with a new sample of participants defined as in the first experiment. given the meaning of one. we return to a brief discussion of context. Homophones in Context Finally. HF = high frequency.31 . Overall. aAssessed by the Nelson-Denny Reading Comprehension Test.30 . The results support the lexical quality hypothesis. some did not. Stanovich.000-ms SOA for Less-Skilled Readers Reading group and variable Less-skilled readers Homophone discrimination HF Homophone discrimination LF Pseudoword reading Comprehension3 Skilled readers Homophone discrimination HF Homophone discrimination LF 150-ms 2. In the meaning decision experiment. A failure to show release from homophone confusion was associated with slower and more error-filled performance on a task that required participants to choose the correct form of two homophones. SOA = stimulus onset asynchrony. 1980). In the larger sample factor analysis.36 —. 1985.LEXICAL BASIS OF COMPREHENSION SKILL 83 Table 5. And the correlations tell us that those who failed to show release from confusion were those slower at decoding.37 -. If all this is more or less correct. we found specific patterns of homophone interference that distinguished skilled and less-skilled readers. p < . Not only are the patterns of experimental effects—the temporal patterns and the frequency patterns—predicted by the hypothesis. For this test. LF = low frequency. SOAs were varied as in the first experiment. it becomes of interest to examine homophone interference when the constraint of sentence meaning reinforces the evidence in the word form that it must be this word rather than that word—that it must he gait rather than gate.35 —. the correlations add support to the hypothesis that lexical quality is responsible for homophone interference. further suggesting that specific assumptions of the lexical quality hypothesis might be reasonable. We see a similar pattern for the homophone-spelling test. we obtain evidence for the lexical processing differences as a function of reading skill.

The results showed several interesting outcomes. However. ending in a homophone and followed by a test word after a varying SOA. The groups were defined this way. Because of his leg injury. are clear: Homophone confusion depends on comprehension skill. this idea generalizes to account for the facts of homophone confusion when there is no context. not just for homophones but also for control words. the semantic component of the word is reinforced sufficiently to override any unstable orthography and phonology. based not on enhancement but on basic lexical identification.4 We must keep in mind that we have a different group of readers here than in the first experiment. It can be overcome only in certain tasks that are not typical of ordinary comprehension. Less-skilled readers may be more dependent on meaning (because of weakness elsewhere in their lexical representations). skilled readers were faster. Recall that skilled readers showed this short SOA effect for the word-only experiment. The confusion we observed when the word itself was the only source of information is now eliminated. The verbal efficiency theory makes the same prediction. it is striking to see the disappearance of the confusion effect when a sentence context is available. This skill difference was a main effect that did not interact with SOA. "The slight effect shown by skilled readers at the shortest SOA is not reliable. Nevertheless. although it might be interesting. This seeming paradox is resolved as follows: The comprehension task here was targeted to the single final word. replicating the first experiment.84 PERFETTI AND HART tence was presented. the man walked with an unusual gait. The key comparison is between a decision to a word related to the meaning of the homophone mate (fence) and a control word. we would be tempted to note its parallel in the research on processing ambiguous words in context. In effect. thus providing more cues to the meaning is very helpful. More directly persuasive. the effect of comprehension skill is mediated solely by lexical factors and is not visible in sentence comprehension itself. Does the encounter of a word with more than one meaning briefly activate all its meanings. the more room for context facilitation.7. Moreover. Thus. There is nothing in this account to suggest that less-skilled readers have a problem in suppression. when coupled with the results of the lexical experiment. At least some skilled readers may have a brief activation to the phonology of the presented word that is sufficient to interfere with a probe that is only 150 ms later. For one. one could say that our context effects demonstrate the enhancement of structures is something that less-skilled readers can do well. The slower the process (because of lexical quality). both for less-skilled readers and for skilled readers. is the clear fact that this group does not comprehend as well as the skilled group. Its implications. Indeed. their general comprehension problem has a clear lexical basis. For example.000-ms) SOA. if this difference were reliable. The design was complete and fully counterbalanced. Both groups were faster to make correct decisions at 450-ms SOA than at either the shorter (150-ms) or longer (2. This is certainly consistent with the findings that even less-skilled readers use context. although the two groups of readers were very accurate in making these decisions. Most interesting is the result that neither group showed any effects of homophones measured in the difference between controls and homophones plotted in Figure 5. 1990). In terms of the structure building framework (Gernsbacher. even when spelling disambiguates the word? . however.

To do so. SOA = stimulus onset asynchrony. we do not need to add a suppression mechanism to the explanation. No effect of homophones was found for either group. Constraining sentence context experiment: Decision time differences between controls and homophones for skilled and less-skilled readers.LEXICAL BASIS OP COMPREHENSION SKILL 85 80 J. one would have to say that less-skilled readers have low-quality word . When the reader is solely dependent on word form. Thus.7. This fact results" in the pattern of experimental results we observed: slower activation and deactivation by the less-skilled reader and confusion restricted to more familiar word forms. o c© 0) 40 a 5 -40 o 150 2000 450 2000 SOA (ms) 150 450 More-Skilled Less-Skilled Figure 5. weaknesses in word form are revealed.

Of course. A lot depends on the lexical knowledge that drives it. 1990). word identification is the central recurring event of reading. Although there are many other component skills in comprehension and an enormous contribution from conceptual knowledge. . But what would be the source of this prolonged competition? A defective additional mechanism that suppresses the unwanted competitor? Or the single-word identification problem that has caused the competition in the first place? It is possible that suppression will continue to be a necessary mechanism to understand related phenomena in nonlinguistic tasks and even in other language comprehension tasks (Gernsbacher. Another possibility is that suppression is nothing more than a prolonged period of competing activations. But in this one case. then we need to reemphasize the lexical foundations of reading comprehension. it is not necessary. words with partially identical forms. If we are right. that might be the case.representations and faulty suppression mechanisms.

were that skilled comprehenders showed a more rapid build up of confusion and a more rapid release from this confusion compared with less-skilled readers.86 PERFETTI AND HART Conclusion We have argued that the quality of lexical representations is a critical factor in reading and that lexical quality can explain individual differences in simple reading comprehension tasks. Furthermore. The results demonstrate that variations in lexical quality produce variation in simple comprehension performance that correlates with overall reading comprehension skill. avoided confusions for the high-frequency member of a homophone pair. to study the simple comprehension of word pairs with a focus on the time course of confusion effects. . Experiments can expose lexical quality with words that share forms or meaning. Accordingly. A second experiment found no confusions for either'skilled or less-skilled comprehenders when the homophone was in a sentence context consistent with its meaning. and semantic information. they provide new and partly nonobvious evidence for a specific lexical knowledge explanation of individual differences in comprehension. The important findings. phonological. skilled readers. consistent with the lexical quality hypothesis. thus putting pressure on lexical quality. which share phonology. Our experiments used homophones. Variation in lexical quality—the extent to which individual word forms and meanings are represented reliably and coherently— produces variation in identifying a specific word from among words that share orthographic. but not less-skilled readers.

E. Stanovich. Hillsdale.).. (1988). R. The time-course of graphic. Child Development. A. Reading skill and the identification of words in discourse context. NJ: Erlbaum. Gemsbacher (Ed. The effect of sentence context on on-going word recognition: Tests of a two-process theory. Memory. 64. Memory & Cognition. Perfetti (Eds. (1981). Reading ability. (1979). F. Language comprehension as structure building. NJ: Erlbaum.). Reading skill and the role of verbal experience in decoding. Morris. Perfetti. S. Hillsdale. Gough. W. (1994 ). M. C. Some of the interactive processes in reading and their role in reading skill. Gemsbacher. phonological. 945-984). Cognition. The representation problem in reading acquisition. Language production: grammatical encoding. & Faust. J. A. K. San Diego: Academic Press. T. . In A.. E. & Levelt. C. Reading acquisition (pp. and semantic activation in Chinese character identification. K. Duffy. I. 70. Handbook of psycholinguistics (pp. (1991). (1997). The representation of Hebrew words: Evidence from the obligatory contour principle. A. & Perfetti. Gemsbacher (Ed. A. New York: Oxford University Press. C. Goldman. C. E. Miyake. Hillsdale. C. F.. Perfetti. Carpenter. W. (1998). 49. F. Handbook ofpsycholinguistics (pp. A. (1994). 32-71. Perfetti.111-121. Memory. Perfetti. In M.. & R. Journal of Educational Psychology. and Cognition. 429-446. Lexical ambiguity and fixation times in reading. A. A. Hogaboam. & Shimron. and aging. W. S. Ehri. 717-729. (1992). (1978). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning.. 658-672. & Stanovich.. Journal of Memory and Language. P. San Diego: Academic Press. Treiman (Eds. E. 1075-1122). (1980). Toward an interactive-compensatory model of individual differences in the development of reading fluency.. Lesgold & C. K. & Just. West. 7. In M. A. M. Stanovich. 17. T. & Tan. K. H. Interactive processes in reading (pp. A. 1-18. aphasia. L. R. 39-72. C.). & Roth.). C. K. 24. (1978). K. Gemsbacher. NJ: Perfetti. Working memory constraints in comprehension: Evidence from individual differences. 245-262. & Hogaboam. 145-174). (1985). The mechanism of suppression: A component of general comprehension skill. S.References Berent. and Cognition.. 273-282. 27. Reading Research Quarterly. M. M... & Rayner. 269-297). A. Bock. L. A.. R. (1990). A. M. (1981). A. 7... & West. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning. B. In P. A. Automatic contextual facilitation in readers of three ages. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. A. R. 16.

a rapid visual task. Booth. Perfetti Department of Psychology University of Pittsburgh Brian MacWhinney and Sean . Northwestern University. E-mail: j -booth@nwu. These results suggest that continued deficits in auditory ability may have a pervasive and negative impact on word processing in general. Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. IL 60208-3560. adults did not exhibit a relation between rapid visual ability and orthographic-processing problems. whereas deficits in rapid visual ability in children are primarily associated with problems in orthographic processing (Farmer & Klein. the adults showed a strong relation between rapid auditory ability and both orthographic and phonological processing. In contrast to the children. 1995). Our results support a differential development model of reading disability that argues that deficits in rapid auditory ability in children are primarily associated with problems in phonological processing. Inc. Evanston. In addition. The Association of Rapid Temporal Perception With Orthographic and Phonological Processing in Children and Adults With Reading Impairment James R. 101-132 Copyright © 2000. and a battery of orthographic and phonological tasks. Booth Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Northwestern University Charles A. 4(2).SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF READING. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Orthographic-processing deficits may Requests for reprints should be sent to James R. Hunt Department of Psychology Carnegie Mellon University Adults and children with reading impairment (N= 67) were administered a rapid auditory task. 2299 North Campus Drive.

result from a reading delay condition that can be overcome with increased reading exposure (Harm & Seidenberg. 1995). Some investigators claim that reading and oral-language disabilities in children are caused by a low-level deficit in rapid temporal perception. some have suggested that phonological decoding from letters to sounds may be a "self-teaching device" that functions to establish orthographic representations and. 1994). but may also serve to increase the representational properties of words as they are actually read. Taken together. and phoneme blending (Wagner. In fact. DIFFERENTIAL DEVELOPMENT MODEL OF READING DISABILITY There is debate in the literature over what underlies individual differences in orthographic and phonological processing. The magnocellular system is important for processing stimuli that change rapidly over time. This deficit may result in the inability to form accurate representations of phonemes that may eventually result in a phonemic awareness deficit and then reading disability. However. & Slaghuis. hence. & Rashotte. Thus. 1986). an autonomous orthographic lexicon (Share & Stanovich. Tallal (1980) and colleagues argued that children with oral language impairment suffer from a problem in processing rapid temporal changes in speech. 1995) and that oral-language disabilities are associated with the inability to represent rapidly presented auditory stimuli (Tallal et al. 1996). whereas the parvocellular system is important for . phonological processes not only have a causal role in later word decoding ability (Wagner et al. 1983). but rather a heterogeneous group including individuals with distinct behavioral deficits that may result from different etiologies. this research suggests that deficits in phonological processing may be the marker characteristic of reading disability. Torgesen. 1994). Martin. as measured by phoneme segmentation. phoneme deletion. attempts at phonological decoding during reading may be the main learning mechanism that brings about knowledge of whole word spellings (Jorm & Share. Indeed.102 BOOTH ETAL. such as moving objects. Many correlational and training studies have shown that later reading achievement is predicted best by earlier phonological knowledge. Children with reading problems are not a homogeneous group. Wood. Stein. 1993). 1999). & Wood. studies show that reading disabilities are associated with the inability to represent rapidly presented visual stimuli (Eden.. a transient system deficit in the magnocellular stream was implicated in readers with impairments (Lovegrove. there is also clear evidence that some children with reading problems have difficulty in learning the orthographic spelling patterns of English (Castles & Coltheart. Within the field of reading. In fact.

The parvocellular system is clearly involved in reading because letter and word recognition require the analysis of location and orientation. 1983. Figure 1 displays the differential development model of reading disability that suggests deficits in visual temporal processing should be primarily related to orthographic problems in children. whereas rapid auditory perception deficits may lead to phonological problems. 1995) suggested that rapid visual perception deficits may lead to orthographic problems. Manis. and orientation. 1995.. which are involved in visual and auditory processing. the reader with impairment may not be able to effectively inhibit past visual word forms to accurately perceive new visual word forms when reading text. Tallal. & Galaburda. & Murray. A recent model of reading disabilities (Farmer & Klein. The second level is the individuation of two stimuli. This persistence disrupts normal reading acquisition and may slow the acquisition of low-frequency exception words. Doi. and therefore. The litera- . Indeed. whereas auditory ability deficits should be primarily related to phonological problems in children and adults. The lack of deficits in the detection task is crucial to the hypothesis that readers with impairment have a temporal-processing deficit because the detection task does not require temporal perception. Menard. & Gottardo. Overall. 1998). Rosen. Seidenberg. and the amount of activity in V5/MT (extrastriate visual area) is related to reading rate in individuals with dyslexia (Demb. Note that these subtypes of children tend to have relative deficits in orthographic or phonological processing. The first level is the detection of a single stimulus. These orthographic and phonological deficits in children with reading disabilities may correspond to the two types of dyslexia discussed in the developmental literature (Castles & Coltheart. Mclntyre. such as in naming nonwords and in making phonetic judgments. Detection requires the determination of the presence or absence of a stimulus. & Petersen. 1997). 1980). & Heeger. This visual deficit may result in increased "persistence" of stimuli in the visual system. but individuals with dyslexia appear to not have abnormalities in the parvocellular system. McBride-Chang. Siegel. such as in naming exception words and in spelling tasks. The literature provides little evidence for auditory or visual deficits in this very low level perceptual ability in readers with impairment (Blackwell. & Rosen. individuals with dyslexia are impaired at exception word and nonword reading relative to readers without impairment. Imaging studies also show less activity in V5/MT when individuals with dyslexia are processing moving stimuli (Eden et al. Drislane.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 103 processing location. physiological studies of deceased individuals with dyslexia have revealed abnormalities only in magnocellular neurons in the lateral and medial geniculate nucleus. 1991). Individuals with surface dyslexia have deficits in orthographic processing. 1995). color. Stanovich. Boynton. Livingstone. Individuation requires the determination of the existence of two stimuli with a very short interstimulus interval (ISI). 1994. 1993. Individuals withphonological dyslexia have deficits in phonological processing. There are at least three potential levels of perceptual deficits in reading disability (Farmer & Klein. respectively (Galaburda. 1996).

1995). in readers with impairment in the individuation tasks (McCroskey & Kidder. The arrows in the figure are bidirectional because we assume that higher levels of processing can influence lower levels of processing and vice versa. The third level is the temporal ordering of two or more stimuli. Orthographic System 'Delay' Visual Temporal Processing Deficit Orthographic Auditory Phonemic System 'Disability' I Reading Disabled Phonological Fl G U R E1 A differential development model of reading disability that suggests deficits in rapid visual temporal processing are primarily related to orthographic problems. However.104 BOOTH ETAL. The narrow arrows in the visual-orthographic pathway represent that this is a reading delay condition that can diminish in adulthood. 1993. Slaghuis & Lovegrove. the participant is required to report aloud the sequence of three high or low pure tones. The wide arrows in the auditory-phonemic pathway represent that these problems often persist into adulthood. & Nass. in one auditory temporal-ordering task. . For example. Conte. This requires the reader to report the order of stimuli presented in a sequence. Temporal-ordering tasks are more demanding than the previous two levels because these tasks require an accurate representation of stimuli and short-term memory processes. When taken together. 1985). ture shows some evidence for visual deficits. Tallal. The literature provides strong evidence for auditory deficits in temporal ordering and some evidence for visual deficits in readers with impairment (Brannon & Williams. 1980. Walther-Mueller. 1980). more recent studies have questioned the relation between dyslexia and individuation ability as measured by visual flicker and spatial frequency tasks (Victor. Burton. whereas rapid auditory ability deficits are primarily related to phonemic problems. This model is based loosely on ideas in Farmer and Klein (1995) and Harm and Seidenberg (1999). 1988. but little evidence for auditory deficits. this research suggests that reading disability should be related to deficits in visual individuation and both visual and auditory temporal ordering. The phonemic system is connected to the orthographic system by a bidirectional arrow to represent that persistent deficits in phonological processing may negatively impact orthographic processing.

it may be difficult to determine causality because perceptual and word-processing components are likely to be interactive (McClelland & Rumelhart. Liberman & Mattingly. those who have low phonological awareness (Manis et al.and low-level processing. Fitch. Studdert-Kennedy. however. As discussed earlier. the correlational nature of this study makes it impossible to reach any conclusions regarding causal mechanisms. Carter. these components of processing may be differentially weighted in particular tasks. Studies with male rats have shown that cortical lesions result in fewer large and more small neurons in the medial geniculate nucleus and an accompanying deficit in fast auditory temporal processing (Herman. It maybe that readers with impairment have deficits in accurately representing phonetic factors (articulatory features). One of the most studied individuation tasks in individuals with dyslexia is categorical speech perception. A review of the literature concluded that readers with impairment have deficits in detection. However. 198 5). the research on nonspeech stimuli suggests limited deficits in detection and individuation. all of these component processes must be examined to provide a proper test of the differential development model of reading disability presented in Figure 1. but the research on speech stimuli seems to suggest deficits at these levels. 1995). 1997). & Rosen. No previous study has included an examination of the relation among all of these component processes (Reed. and temporal-ordering tasks when speech stimuli are used (McBride-Chang. Indeed. but they are not impaired at perceiving rapid spectral changes (Mody. A failure to obtain the predicted correlations of sensory-processing deficits with orthographic and phonological deficits would invalidate the differential development model. However. These studies show that deficits in categorical perception may be weak (Werker & Tees. 1981). & Brady. There has been some controversy in the literature as to whether speech represents a specialized area of auditory processing (Liberman. Galaburda. We chose exception word nam- . individuation. 1989). We realize that all reading measures require both orthographic and phonological knowledge. THIS STUDY The general approach of this study was to examine the relation between individual differences in perceptual ability and reading skill within a sample of children with reading impairment (Experiment 1) and adults with reading impairment (Experiment 2). such as pure tones. 1987) and apply only to a subset of individuals with dyslexia—for example. 1982. 1997). This study employed naming and priming tasks to measure orthographic and phonological processing. 1997)..ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 105 Most of the aforementioned studies have investigated nonspeech stimuli. This study examined the association of both rapid visual and rapid auditory ability with both orthographic and phonological processing. Computational modeling as well as animal studies clearly show that there is an interaction between high.

this suggests that good readers activate orthographic and phonological information more quickly and automatically than do poor readers. Booth. range = 11-18 years) from an educational program for children with specific learning disabilities in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. 60 ms) displayed after a briefly presented (60 ms) orthographic or phonological prime. we expected rapid visual ability to be uniquely associated with orthographic-processing deficits and rapid auditory ability to be uniquely associated with phonological-processing deficits. 1993). Because these stimuli were displayed for a duration (less than 60 ms) that was brief enough to prevent complete processing. The priming task used the brief duration identification paradigm (Perfetti. Bell.. 1988). Only children with at least a second-grade proficiency in read- . and MacWhinney (1999) reported that good readers (second through sixth graders) exhibited more phonological and orthographic priming than did poor readers. These findings would be consistent with the differential development model presented in Figure 1. ing as a measure of orthographic processing and nonword naming as a measure of phonological processing because these have been used in previous studies on subtypes of reading disorders (Castles & Coltheart. Perfetti. Method Participants Participants were 35 children (M= 15. In a previous investigation of readers without impairment. This paradigm requires the participant to write down a very briefly presented target (e.g. & Delaney.106 BOOTH ET AL. This study established the utility of the brief duration identification paradigm for examining reading skill differences in orthographic and phonological priming. EXPERIMENT 1 Experiment 1 examined the relation of visual and auditory perceptual ability to orthographic and phonological processing in a population of children with reading impairment. Apart from this overall deficit. This task allows an assessment of the magnitude of orthographic and phonological priming.2 years. Exception word reading requires knowledge of spelling patterns that violate statistical regularities in English. This pattern of relations should be reflected in the naming and possibly in the priming tasks. We expected these low-ability children with reading impairment to have difficulty in processing phonological as well as orthographic representations. whereas nonword reading requires generalization of knowledge about phonological structure to unfamiliar nonwords.

MacWhinney. Materials and Procedure All materials administered to the participants were presented on identical 15-in. In addition. 1992). the inclusion of many children with low IQ scores may make it difficult to compare the results of this study to other studies of children with reading disorders who have IQs in the normal range. whereas others argue that there need not be a discrepancy for a child to have a learning disability in reading (Shaywitz. & Shaywitz. 1994. Nevertheless. Siegel. Flatt. All children also had existing neuropsychological examinations from registered clinical psychologists. 1987) were chosen. based on their scores on the Word Identification subtest (Woodcock. In our view. 1994) diagnoses were Cognitive Disorder (43%). no children had motoric problems that interfered with their ability to complete the experimental protocol. Writing Disorder (21%). We realize that there is controversy over how to define the population that has reading impairments. Mathematics Disorder (19%). and 10 children had an IQ score between 70 and 80. The participant was asked to fixate on a cross in the middle of the computer screen about 50 cm away. and responses were recorded with the CMU button box. However. Holahan. we examined the relation of auditory and visual perceptual ability with orthographic and phonological processing after partialling for age and IQ. the inclusion of children who have low IQ scores and who lack the IQ discrepancy makes our findings more general in that the results of the study appear to apply to a larger population of children and adults. Rapid visual. to make sure that the results of our study were not caused by age or IQ differences. Stanovich & Siegel. and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (24%). Fletcher. After the participant pressed a button on a . 1991) within the last 5 years. No children had diagnosed behavior or emotional problems according to school records. The mean Full IQ was 80 (range = 65-109)—4 children had an IQ score below 70.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 107 ing. Fletcher. American Psychiatric Association. 1994). [DSM-IV]. Some researchers argue that there must be a significant discrepancy between reading achievement and IQ. Reading Disorder (37%). All participants had been administered the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Wechsler. The most common Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed. & Provost. MultiScan Macintosh monitors controlled by a Macintosh PowerPC computer. 1992. 1993). The participants could not complete the experimental tasks without this level of proficiency in reading. & Shaywitz. All tasks described hereafter were presented with PsyScope (Cohen. Borderline Intellectual Functioning (39%). There is some research suggesting that children with reading impairment who are with and without an IQ discrepancy behave in similar ways (Shaywitz.

button box.300. high). We considered the rapid auditory task to be primarily a temporal ordering task because it required the participant to report the sequence of different stimuli (Farmer & Klein. All tones faded in and out for 20 ms. four to nine black dots flashed one after the other at the same place on a white computer screen. However. although during the practice session (12 trials) the experimenter provided feedback until the participant could accurately discriminate between the high and low tones.g.or 150-ms duration and an interstimulus interval of 100 or 300 ms. The end of the series was marked by a number line (3 to 10) presented on the bottom of the screen.. or 400 ms. HLH for high.1974. with a 75. All possible combinations of frequencies. However.. There were 9 practice trials and 72 test trials. At the very least. Rapid auditory. 1973. The experimenter entered the number reported by the participant into the computer. then there is no reason to predict why rapid visual ability should be associated only with visual orthographic and not with visual phonological processing. Each dot was . The practice session contained the easier two-tone sequences with long durations (225 ms) and long ISIs (450 ms). The pure tones were digitized for presentation by computer through headphones. The participant was asked to listen to a series of two orthree tones. However. The participant controlled the presentation of each trial with a button box. he or she was asked to report orally the number of dots. who then entered the sequence into the computer (e. 167 in. We considered the rapid visual task to be primarily an individuation task because it required the participant to detect gaps between the same visual stimuli (Farmer & Klein. For example. This rapid visual task was used because performance on a similar version was shown to be related to reading problems (Eden et al. The tones were either 100 or 300 Hz. and was presented for 40 ms. No feedback was given during the test session (64 trials). The end of each trial was marked by an "enter order" prompt on the computer screen. this task may have also had other cognitive components that contributed to performance. The interstimulus intervals were 200. 1995). After the participant saw the number line. 1995).1975). duration. this task also had a short-term memory component be- . so this meant that there were 24 test trials at each interstimulus interval. The participant was then asked to report aloud the sequence of tones to the experimenter. 1995). this task had a short-term memory component because it required participants to remember the number of dots presented and then to report that number to the experimenter. some children may have used a counting strategy in which they retrieved number names and internally articulated them. and interstimulus intervals were presented randomly.108 BOOTH ETAL. we argue that if the memory component of this task was responsible for the effects discussed later. low. This rapid auditory task was used because a similar version has been shown to be related to oral-language problems (Tallal & Piercy. 167 x .

1987) is a nonword naming measure containing items that range in complexity from easy words at the beginning. 1985) requires the participant to read aloud 45 exception words. Standard words. This task involved 15 practice trials followed by a series of 120 test trials. there is no reason to predict why rapid auditory ability should be associated only with visual phonological and not with visual orthographic processing. Each trial consisted of a brief presentation of a nonword prime (60 ms). and ends with more difficult words. such asplay. Exception words. and the participant was asked to press a button to begin each trial. We considered this task to primarily measure orthographic-processing skill. Participants read all exception words in this task regardless of their accuracy. so that any observed priming effects would have to be attributed to an abstract letter representation and not a lower level case-specific visual representation. Orthographic and pseudohomophone priming. This test was used to measure general reading skill. performance on this task would have been near ceiling for the more advanced readers because of luminance persistence of the target on the computer monitor. The Word Identification subtest (Woodcock. Primes were always presented in uppercase. The pattern mask was used to disrupt the processing of the target. Nonwords. Some participants may have also internally rehearsed the articulatory code for the tone labels. Test administration was stopped when the participant pronounced six consecutive words incorrectly. followed immediately by a brief presentation of a real word target (60 ms). such as dat.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 109 cause it required the participants to remember the order of tones presented. Without the pattern mask. However. such as baroque. The items range from easy words. such as byrcal. Participants read all nonwords in this task regardless of their accuracy. The test begins with easy words. The Exception Words subtest (Adams & Huggins. we argue that if the memory component of this task was responsible for the effects discussed later. There was no interstimulus interval between prime and target or between target and mask. such as Zeitgeist. to more difficult words at the end. We considered this task to primarily measure phonological-processing skill. 1987) contains approximately 80% regular words and 20% irregular words. and targets were always presented in lowercase. which was then immediately followed by a mask of the form XXXXX (500 ms). The Word Attack subtest (Woodcock. A fixation cross was displayed before each trial. such as ocean. All . to more difficult words.



stimuli were presented in white letters on a black background in 16-point Courier font. All words were four (1.6 cm) or five (2 cm) letters in length. The participants' task was to write down the target word after each practice and test trial. The dependent variable on this task was the percentage of correct responses. Reaction time was not measured in this task because factors not associated with orthographic and phonological processing were likely to influence writing time—for example, the amount of time to move pencil to the proper location on paper. Participants were encouraged to guess about the identity of the target if they were not sure. No partial credit was given. We are assuming that the participants' written responses reflected access to orthographic and phonological forms, although other factors, such as knowledge of common letter patterns, may have influenced the translation from a mental representation to a written word. There were one within-item and two between-item factors in the priming task. The within-item factor varied the three prime types. The pseudohomophone primes were phonologically identical to the targets (e.g., TUME-tomb). The orthographic primes shared the same overlapping letters with the target words as pseudohomophone primes but different nonoverlapping letters (e.g., TAMS-tomb). The control primes shared no letters in common with target (e.g., USAN- tomb). There were three counterbalancing lists, so that across participants, each prime preceded each target an equal number of times. This meant that the three groups of participants corresponding to the three counterbalancing lists received a different list of prime-target pairs. The two between-item factors were (a) orthographic similarity between prime and target and (b) target frequency. Orthographic similarity was defined on the basis of the formula that takes into account identical letters in the same position, in adjacent positions, and in the first and final positions (Van Orden, Johnston, & Hale, 1988). Our orthographic similarity value (os = .52) was exactly the same for the orthographic and pseudohomophone primes and was similar to, but slightly lower than, those found in other studies (e.g., os = .62-.68; Van Orden et al., 1988). TUME-tomb is an example of a low orthographic similarity pair, whereas HOAP-hope is an example of a high orthographic similarity pair. The low-frequency words had a mean frequency level of 11.5 in 1 million. The high-frequency words had a mean frequency level of 167 in 1 million (Kucera & Francis, 1967).

Results and Discussion
The following analytical procedure was used for Experiment 1 with children with reading impairment and later for Experiment 2 with adults with reading impairment. First, we examined the relation of a number of stimuli, duration, and interstimulus interval to accuracy levels in the rapid temporal ability tasks. Second,



we examined individual differences in naming accuracy on the exception word and nonword tasks, and then we examined the relation among overall naming accuracy and orthographic and phonological priming. Finally, we examined the relation between rapid temporal ability and orthographic and phonological processing. Rapid Temporal Processing Figure 2 displays accuracy on the rapid visual ability measure as a function of the number of dots in the set and the ISI between each dot in the set. A 6 (dot number: 4, 5, 6,7, 8, 9) x 3 (dot ISI: 200,300,400 ms) analysis of variance (ANOVA) yielded significant main effects for dot number, F(5, 629) = 3.35,p < .05; dot ISI, F(2, 629) = 46.12, p < .001; and a trend for a significant interaction between dot number and dot ISI, F(10, 629) = 2.60, p < .10. The main effects show that sets with a greater number of dots or with shorter ISIs had lower accuracy levels than did sets with a fewer number of dots or with longer ISIs, respectively. However, the interaction suggests that increasing the number of dots at the long ISIs had a minimal effect on accuracy, whereas increasing the number dots at the shorter ISIs reduced accuracy levels substantially. Figure 3 displays accuracy on the rapid auditory ability measure as a function of the number of tones in the set, the duration of the tones in the set, and the ISI between each tone in the set. A 2 (tone number: 2,3) * 2 (tone duration: 75,150 ms) x Children

Number of dots
FIGURE 2 Mean correct on the rapid visual ability measure as a function of the number of dots in the set (4 to 9) and the ISI between each dot in the set (200,300, or 400 ms) for the children in Experiment 1. Error bars indicate one standard error.




Mean correct


Tone.lSI •
■ 150,100ms


♦ 75,300ms

7 5,100ms

Number of tones FIGURE 3 Mean correct on the rapid auditory ability measure as a function of the number of tones in the set (2,3), the duration of the tones in the set (75,150 ms), and the ISI between each tone in the set (100,300 ms) for the children in Experiment 1. Error bars indicate one standard error.

2 (tone ISI: 100, 300 ms) ANOVA yielded a significant main effect for tone number,^, 279) = 8.21,p < .01; tone duration, F(\, 279) = lA9,p< .01; and tone ISI, F(\, 279) = 8.70,p < .01. These main effects indicate that sequences of two tones had higher accuracy levels than sequences of three tones, that sequences of long tones had higher accuracy levels than sequences of short tones, and that sequences with long ISIs had higher accuracy levels than sequences with short ISIs. For the remaining analyses involving rapid temporal or auditory ability, we used an average measure, including all items in each instrument, because increasing the number of items increased the reliability of the measure. This was justified because the correlations between the subscales in the temporal ability measures were high (rave = .69). By subscales, we mean accuracy levels on each combination of number, duration, and ISI factors. Individual Differences in Word Naming Table 1 displays the means for the word naming, rapid temporal ability, and IQ measures for the children with reading impairment. We were interested in whether the children had particular deficits on the exception words or nonwords measures, so we calculated difference scores (d) between exception words and standard words and between nonwords and standard words. These difference scores give an estimate of the children's relative deficits in orthographic and phonological pro-

27.2) were not significantly different.1 34.8) and phonological processing (d= 16. ^(34) = 1. Clearly. These figures also suggest that the adults sampled may be slightly less disabled than the children sampled. second.7 43.2 15.6 66. All analyses on the standard words and nonwords measures were calculated on the raw scores.1 24. and age equivalents on the standard words measure for the reading disabled children in Experiment 1 and the reading disabled adults in Experiment 2 (see Appendix).ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING TABLE 1 Means and Standard Deviations for Word Naming. Because this design requires . both children and adults in this study were severely reading disabled.9 78. and IQ Measures in Experiment 1 for the Children Who Were Reading Impaired M Naming Standard words Exception words Nonwords Rapid temporal Visual Auditory IQ Verbal Performance SD 113 50. we computed percentile ranks. Nevertheless. cessing. Rapid Temporal. This was done because the normative data are not sensitive for the adult populations in Experiment 2 for two reasons.fhere are a limited number of words on the upper end of the range of item difficulties.6 81. suggesting that the children with reading impairment were having difficulty with phonological as well as with orthographic processing. standard scores. First. Means for the naming and rapid temporal measures are percentages.1 21.9 Note. SD = 15).5 18. the normative sample only included adults up to 33 years of age. even though normative data are available for these measures (Woodcock. but these scores must be interpreted with caution because they are not sensitive to older populations.9 38. Naming accuracy was treated as a continuous regressor variable to more accurately represent underlying differences in ability.p = .4 28. Means for the IQ scores are standard scores (M= 100. \2. Orthographic and Phonological Priming In the priming analyses. The difference scores for orthographic (d = 12. naming accuracy was the one between-participant variable. These calculations show that on average the children and adults scored lower than the 13th percentile in word naming.1 23.7 13. 1987).

001. exception words. Because the orthographic primes had overlapping letters and sounds with the target. All three naming measures were highly intercorrelated: standard-exception. exception-non. which allowed them to use this information for target identification more efficiently than the children with low naming accuracy scores. On the basis of a previous study of children without disabilities (Booth.001.82. All data are presented as if naming accuracy were a dichoto-mous variable (median split) for clarity of presentation and ease in interpretation. r(34) = . In summary. & MacWhinney. There were two within-participant independent variables—orthographic similarity and word frequency. we expected more orthographic priming for pairs with high orthographic similarity and for high-frequency targets. low) analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with naming accuracy as an independent regressor variable. but all statistical analyses used the continuous naming accuracy variable. r(34) = .01. and these results are presented in different sections. we must attribute these priming effects to a combination of orthographic and phonemic overlap. r(34) = . Perfetti. Naming accuracy was defined as the mean score on the three naming measures—standard words. and nonwords. p < .94. 139) = 9. low) x 2 (frequency: high.4%) than did children with low naming accuracy scores (tf = -1. 1999).77./? < .114 BOOTH ETAL. orthographic and pseudohomophone priming difference scores were submitted to a 2 (orthographic similarity: high. Planned comparisons were computed separately for the orthographic and pseudohomophone priming dependent variables.12. As predicted. Pseudohomophone priming. Figure 4 displays accuracy levels for the three priming conditions for the high and low naming accuracy scores of children. We have ar- . it is possible to view the pseudohomophone priming effects as resulting purely from phonological priming. p < . only participant analyses could be computed. Pseudohomophone priming was calculated as the difference (d) between accuracy in the pseudohomophone and orthographic conditions. Thus. the children with high naming accuracy scores had quicker access to higher quality phonological representations. combining them was a reasonable approach. an analysis focusing on a continuous participant variable. Because the pseudohomophone primes had the same level of orthographic similarity to the targets as did the orthographic primes. Orthographic priming was calculated as the difference (d) between accuracy in the orthographic and control conditions. the most important finding was that children with high naming accuracy scores benefited more from pseudohomophone priming (d= 5. Presumably. F(l. standard-non./? < . In particular.001.7%). we expected the priming effects to depend on the amount of orthographic overlap of the prime with the target and on the frequency of the target. There were two dependent variables of interest in the priming task—orthographic priming and pseudohomophone priming.

139) = 36.0%) benefited more from orthographic priming than did low-frequency targets (d = 10. This relation held in the this experiment even though our sample was of children who have severe reading impairment. and this results in larger priming effects (Booth et al.50-. 40' . igh Low i Correct Prime • Pseudo Mean 3Z=£ Naming accuracy i ■ Ortho i ♦ Control FIGURE 4 Mean correct forthe pseudohomophone (phonological).25. The high similarity pairs showed more priming because the larger amount of letter overlap allowed orthographic information to influence processing to a greater degree. so more priming information is needed to produce correct identification. Orthographic priming.78... 1999). This can be accounted for by a model of word recognition that assumes that high-frequency targets are driven more strongly by orthographic input because of their increased frequency of exposure (Plaut.70. high-frequency targets (d = 19.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 115 Children .0%). Stronger input for high-frequency targets means that less priming information is needed to produce correct identification. F(l. 139) = 8. Finally.00. Low-frequency targets are not driven strongly by orthographic input. 1992) lexical representations of better readers who do not have impairment allow them to more efficiently activate representations for words and grapheme-phoneme correspondences at these very short presentation durations. children with high naming accuracy scores also exhibited more orthographic priming (d = 21. p < . Seidenberg. & Patterson.9%) benefited more from priming than did low orthographic similarity pairs (d = 11.4%) than did the children withlownaming accuracy scores (d= 8./? <. gued elsewhere that the more precise and redundant (Perfetti. orthographic.30' . As predicted.F{\. \%). high orthographic similarity pairs (d= 18. and control priming conditions for the high and low naming accuracy scores of children in Experiment 1. F(l.01. 1996). In addition.9%).01. . Error bars indicate one standard error.10' 0.60' .? < . 001. McClelland.20' .20. 139) = 9.

f(69) = 1. control) ANOVA was computed. Comparison of Readers With Impairment to Reading Matched Control Population The data from a group of control children were taken from a separate study that examined the development of orthographic and phonological knowledge (Booth et al.100.40' .81. and word naming ability. a 2 (group: nondisabled. range= 11-18years).60' . orthographic. /(69) = 13. SD = 19. This analysis yielded significant main effects for group.2) and group of individuals with reading impairment (M= 45. To compare the accuracy levels of these two groups.6.50' . 1987).22. . Figure 5 displays the accuracy levels for the priming conditions for the children with reading disabilities and for reading-age-matched children without disabilities.2 years. 209) = Children .5.23. The control children were not part of this study.001. disabled) x 3 (prime: pseudohomophone.116 BOOTH ET AL.p = . 1999). The means on word naming for the control group (M = 49. F(l. 20' . Error bars indicate one standard error. phonological priming. orthographic priming.00. Our measures included age. range = 7-11 years) was significantly less than the mean age of the readers with impairment (M= 15. so we have a limited number of measures on these children.2 years. SD = 18. and control priming conditions for the children with reading disabilities in Experiment 1 and for reading-age-matched children without disabilities. orthographic..9) were not significantly different. correct Prime • Pseudo * ■ Orttio Mean ♦ Control Reading group FIGURE 5 Mean correct for the pseudohomophone (phonological). Because these groups were matched based on reading age.30-. The control children were matched to the children with reading impairment in terms of their standard word naming ability on Word Identification (Woodcock.p< . the mean chronological age of the control children (M= 9.70.

70 *p < ./? < . Next.9%) exhibited significantly lower overall accuracy levels than did those without disabilities (30.05 for the unique variance explained by that variable when entered into the equation. reveals a trend for the reading-age-matched children without disabilities to show more phonological priming (pseudohomophone .46* . and nonwords measures. however. exception words. these analyses showed that both age and IQ explained unique variance in word naming.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 117 18. Even though the readers with disabilities were matched to the children without disabilities in standard word reading. This suggests that readers with disabilities cannot quickly and automatically activate consistent information between the prime and the target. these results suggest that the readers who have impairments were not qualitatively different from the controls without disabilities. Age then IQ were entered into the equation.61* .39.01. . either rapid visual then rapid auditory or rapid auditory then rapid visual were entered into the equation. Taken together.65* . Relation of Rapid Temporal With Orthographic and Phonological Processing Table 2 displays the results of the hierarchical regression equations predicting accuracy on the standard words. 209) = 1.001.62* . but rather the readers with impairment were just quantitatively delayed in their development of orthographic to phonological correspondences. the readers with disabilities (19. or that they show more interference from the inconsistent information between the prime and target. 209) = 34./? < .85.71* . Indeed.orthographic) than the readers with disabilities. The lack of a significant Group * Prime interaction.42* . F(l.73* . and for prime. Then we determined whether rapid auditory abilTABLE 2 Hierarchical Regression Equations Predicting Accuracy (Multiple R) on the Three Naming Tasks in Experiment 1 for the Children Who Were Reading Impaired Standard Words Age IQ Rapid visual Rapid auditory Rapid auditory Rapid visual .70* .51* .82.70 .73 . suggests that both groups exhibited a similar amount of priming.25.70 Exception Words .9%).73* Nonwords .53* . p = . A closer examination of the means presented in Figure 5.31* .37* . We first entered age and then IQ into the equation to partial out these effects so that the predictive power of the rapid perceptual measures could not be attributed to differences in age or IQ. F(\.65* .

we determined whether rapid visual ability explained unique variance in naming accuracy after partialling for rapid auditory ability. but not in orthographic priming. whereas phonological-processing problems are associated primarily with rapid auditory ability deficits. either rapid visual then rapid auditory or rapid auditory then rapid visual were entered into the equation.47 . but not in orthographic processing.05. p = . These results support the differential development model of reading disability presented in Figure 1. r(34) = . Conversely.69. ?(34) = 0. ?(34) = 2. p < .70.35 Orthographic Priming . t(34) = 3.p = . ity explained unique variance in naming accuracy after partialling for rapid visual ability. /(34) = 2.15 . p = . Finally.08 . .70.20 . p = .35* . The rapid perceptual measures explained unique variance in orthographic or phonological processing despite the fact that rapid visual and rapid auditory ability were significantly correlated.p < . Furthermore. the differential development model was not supported by the finding that rapid visual ability did not explain unique variance in orthographic priming. the rapid perceptual measures explained common variance in orthographic and phonological processing. /(34) = 0. Age then IQ were entered into the equation.48 *p < .p < .59. These analyses showed that rapid visual ability explained unique variance in orthographic processing as measured by exception words naming. However. /(34) = 0.118 BOOTH ETAL. Rapid visual ability may not have explained unique variance in orTABLE 3 Hierarchical Regression Equations Predicting (Multiple R) Pseudohomophone and Orthographic Priming in Experiment 1 for the Children Who Were Reading Impaired iphone Priming Age IQ Rapid visual Rapid auditory Rapid auditory Rapid visual .27.46 . rapid auditory ability explained unique variance in phonological processing.01. which argues orthographic-processing problems are associated primarily with rapid visual ability deficits.02. These analyses show that rapid auditory ability explained unique variance in the magnitude of phonological priming.48.67.p < . but not in phonological processing as measured by nonword naming.49.37* . Table 3 displays the results of the hierarchical regression equations predicting orthographic and phonological priming. We also examined the unique variance explained by rapid auditory and rapid visual ability in the magnitude of orthographic and phonological priming. This may be due to more general abilities shared by the rapid perceptual tasks.35* . Next.67.05 for the unique variance explained by that variable when entered into the equation.05.001.78. such as processing speed or attention. These results are consistent with the differential development model presented in Figure 1.40. t(34) = 0.40 .48 .

Bookman. A recent computational model of dyslexia suggests that there is a different pattern of orthographic and phonological deficits for adults than for children with reading disabilities (Harm & Seidenberg. Lefty.1974. suggesting that.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 119 thographic priming because the orthographic primes are both orthographically and phonologically similar to the targets. Indeed. and individuals with phonological dyslexia tend to have deficits in phonological processing.. This suggests that orthographic deficits should diminish by adulthood because of increased exposure to written language. This model argues that phonological dyslexia results from a pervasive deficit that is characterized by inaccurate.1975). 1999). 1997). 1992. In contrast to phonological dyslexia. whereas orthographic deficits should diminish by adulthood. without intensive auditory and phonemic training. is reflected in the differential development model presented in Figure 1 as thicker lines in the auditory-phonological route than in the visual-orthographic route. The notion that phonological deficits should persist into adulthood. On the basis of the differential development model presented in Figure 1. There is some evidence that training can increase auditory and phonemic discrimination in children with language impairment (Tallal et al. As mentioned earlier. incomplete phonological representations. phonological deficits should persist into adulthood because developing accurate phonological representations requires fine-grained discrimination in rapid acoustic transitions during speech input (Tallal &Piercy. the computational model argues that surface dyslexia results from slower learning or less reading exposure that is characterized by a reading delay (Harm & Seidenberg. individuals with surface dyslexia tend to have deficits in orthographic processing. 1973. deficits in speech perception tend to be weak (Werker & Tees. as compared to the control primes. 1987). 1996) and in Japanese adults who initially could not discriminate between the kl and IV in the English language (McClelland. These null results warrant further research on the relation between rapid visual ability and orthographic priming. & Smith. we predicted that the adults with reading impairment would be more . Van Orden. behavioral research suggests that improvements in adults with reading impairment primarily involve gains in orthographic processing and not in phonological processing (Bruck. Adults with reading impairment may access word meanings based on visual features and spelling patterns but continue to have deficits in phonological processing. Pennington. 1999). Experiment 2 examined the relation of rapid visual and auditory ability with orthographic and phonological processing in a population of adults with reading impairment. 1987) and apply only to a subset of individuals with dyslexia (Manis et al.. EXPERIMENT 2 As discussed earlier. 1999).

1987) were chosen. Mathematics Disorder (28%). deficits in auditory ability and phonological processing may eventually prevent the attainment of normal levels of orthographic-processing skill because of the interaction between the phonological and orthographic systems in reading development (Plaut et al. The differential development model also predicts that initially an inefficient visual system should slow down the process of reading and the acquisition of a sight word vocabulary in children. no adults had motoric problems that interfered with their ability to complete the experimental . All participants had been administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (Wechsler.120 BOOTH ETAL. 1995). Method Participants Participants were 32 adults (M= 34. based on their scores on the Word Identification subtest (Woodcock. according to their records. All adults also had existing neuropsychological examinations from registered clinical psychologists. 1994) were Cognitive Disorder (50%). 1985) within the last 5 years. No adults had diagnosed behavior or emotional problems. Reading Disorder (28%). The differential development model also predicts that phonological-processing deficits should persist into adulthood and that there should continue to be a strong relation between rapid auditory ability and phonological-processing skill. In addition.7 years. an inefficient visual system should have less of an impact on reading because increasing exposure to written words should allow the acquisition of the low-frequency exception words. Therefore. Only adults with at least a second-grade proficiency in reading. The self-teaching hypothesis discussed earlier also predicts a snowballing effect of early deficits in phonological decoding on later orthographic skill (Share & Stanovich. In other words. and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (17%). Borderline Intellectual Functioning (33%). The mean Full IQ was 87 (range = 75-110)—10 adults had IQ scores less than 80. In fact. This slow down should be primarily reflected in limited acquisition of low-frequency exception words. 1996). range = 19-51 years) from an educational program in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area for adults with specific learning disabilities. the differential development model predicts that deficits in rapid auditory ability should be related to orthographic-processing problems in adults with reading impairment. The most common DSM-IV diagnoses (American Psychiatric Association. impaired on the nonword naming measure of phonological processing than on the exception word naming measure of orthographic processing. we predicted a relation between rapid visual ability and orthographic processing in children with reading impairment but not in adults with reading impairment. Later.. Writing Disorder (17%).

These main effects show that long tones had higher accuracy levels than short tones and that long ISIs had higher accuracy levels than short ISIs. 5. F(2. the duration of the tones in the set. we calculated the same difference . The correlation between the subscales in the temporal-processing measures were high (rave =. 575) = 5. including all the items in each instrument. 7. and dot ISI.001. we used an average measure. F(l. The main effects indicate that sets with a greater number of dots or with shorter ISIs had lower accuracy levels than did sets with a fewer number of dots or with longer ISIs. As with Experiment 1. Figure 7 displays accuracy on the rapid auditory ability measure as a function of the number of tones in the set. respectively.05. Results and Discussion Rapid Temporal Processing Figure 6 displays accuracy on the rapid visual ability measure as a function of the number of dots in the set and the ISI between each dot in the set. 255) = 8.09./. 6./? < . A 2 (tone number: 2. and the ISI between each tone in the set. 400 ms) ANOVA yielded significant main effects for dot number.< . F(5. F{\. Furthermore. rapid temporal ability.33. 575) = 8. many of the adults in this study were enrolled at some time in the children's program.150 ms) * 2 (tone ISI: 100.43. This adult sample was very similar to the child sample in Experiment 1 except that the adults had a slightly higher mean Full IQ (87 vs. 255) = 4. Materials and Procedure The materials and procedure for the adults in Experiment 2 were exactly the same as for the children in Experiment 1. 80.78. To determine relative deficits in orthographic and phonological processing. 9) x 3 (dot ISI: 200.p< .71). for the rest of the analyses involving rapid visual or auditory ability in Experiment 2.3) x 2 (tone duration: 75. A 6 (dot number: 4. 300. 300 ms) ANOVA yielded a significant main effect for tone duration.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 121 protocol. respectively). and increasing the number of the items in the scale increased the reliability of the measure.01. and IQ measures for the adults with reading impairment.001. p < . These samples may have been very similar because both programs are administered by the same nonprofit organization and use similar criteria for admission into the program. Individual Differences Table 4 displays the means for the word naming. 8. and tone ISI.


300ms ♦ 200ms
5 6 8 7

Number of dots
FIGURE 6 Mean correct on the rapid visual ability measure as a function of the number of dots in the set (4 to 9) and the ISI between each dot in the set (200,300,400 ms) for the adults in Experiment 2. Error bars indicate one standard error.

1.00' .90'


o .70 c

a> S .60 .50 .40

ll II


i i



• 150,300ms ■ 150,100ms ♦ 75,300ms A 75,100ms


Number of tones

FIGURE 7 Mean correct on the rapid auditory ability measure as a function of the number of tones in the set (2,3), the duration of the tones in the set (75,150 ms), and the ISI between each tone in the set (100, 300 ms) for the adults in Experiment 2. Error bars indicate one standard error.



TABLE 4 Means and Standard Deviations for Word Naming, Rapid Temporal, and IQ Measures in Experiment 2 for the Adults Who Were Reading Impaired M Naming Standard words Exception words Nonwords Rapid temporal Visual Auditory IQ Verbal Performance 71.2 69.1 45.2 50.5 75.2 87.6 88.1 12.4 21.1 21.3 21.3 23.7 10.7 10.2 71 55 77 86 89 93 89 SD Child/Adult (%)

Note. Means for the naming and rapid temporal measures are percentages. Means for the IQ scores are standard scores (M = 100, SD = 15). Child/Adult is calculated as the percentage accuracy for children in Experiment 1 divided by the percentage accuracy for adults in Experiment 2. This measure provides an index of magnitude of the difference between children and adults.

scores (d) as those in Experiment 1. The adults in Experiment 2 had larger deficits on nonwords (d = 26.0) than on exception words (d = 2.2), compared to accuracy on the standard words measure, /(31) = 8.52,;? < .001. The findings for adults with reading impairment were consistent with other studies that show a disproportionate improvement in orthographic processing, compared to phonological processing, with increasing reading exposure (Brack, 1992; Pennington et al., 1987). This disproportionate improvement is in contrast to Experiment 1, which found that children with reading impairment performed equally poorly on the exception words and nonwords measures. Indeed, when accuracy levels in children and adults were directly compared, exception word accuracy in children was 55% of adult levels, whereas nonword accuracy in children was 77% of adult levels. These results support the differential development model presented in Figure 1, which argues that adults with reading problems may partially overcome deficits in orthographic processing. Like the children in Experiment 1, the adults in Experiment 2 scored lower on the rapid visual measure than on the rapid auditory measure. Moreover, when the accuracy levels in children and adults were directly compared, it appears that development is marked by the same improvement in visual and auditory processing. Accuracy levels in rapid visual processing in children was 86% of adult levels, whereas accuracy levels in rapid auditory processing in children was 89% of adult levels. Unfortunately, the design of our study cannot determine whether the children or the adults have absolute deficits in temporal processing because our study did not include a control population that was given the rapid perceptual ability measures. However, it is likely that our child and adult samples did have absolute



deficits because other studies that have used similar tasks have found deficits in populations with reading and oral language impairments (Eden et al., 1995; Tallal & Piercy, 1973, 1974, 1975).

Orthographic and Phonological Priming
As in Experiment 1, orthographic and pseudohomophone priming difference scores (d) were submitted to a 2 (orthographic similarity: high, low) x 2 (frequency: high, low) ANCOVA, with naming accuracy as an independent regressor variable. Naming accuracy was defined as the mean score on the three naming measures—standard words, exception words, and nonwords. All three naming measures were highly intercorrelated: standard-exception, r(31) = .90, p < .001; standard-non, r(31) =. 87, p < .001; exception-non, r(31) = .72, p < .001. Figure 8 displays accuracy levels for the three priming conditions for the high and low naming accuracy adults.

Pseudohomophone priming. As predicted, adults with high naming accuracy scores {d = 15.1 %) benefited more from pseudohomophone priming than did

.70.60.50' .40.30-. 20.10' 0.00.







■ i♦

t ♦

'rime Pseudo



N aming accuracy Low

FIGURE 8 Mean correct for the pseudohomophone (phonological), orthographic, and control priming conditions for the high and low naming accuracy adults in Experiment 2. Error bars indicate one standard error.

71* .? = . We found that rapid visual ability did not explain unique variance in TABLE 5 Hierarchical Regression Equations Predicting Accuracy (Multiple R) on the Three Naming Tasks in Experiment 2 for the Adults Who Were Reading Impaired Standard Words Age IQ Rapid visual Rapid auditory Rapid auditory Rapid visual .ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 125 adults with low naming accuracy scores (d = 2. This is consistent with the differential development model that argues orthographic deficits may be partially overcome in adult readers with impairments.4%).05 for the unique variance explained by that variable when entered into the equation.285.p < .01. Next. F{\. F(l. F(l. Age then IQ were entered into the equation. Like the children in Experiment 1.01.4%).47* .63 . .8%) benefited more from orthographic priming than did low-frequency targets (d= 15. 127) = 35. high-frequency targets (d = 30. 127) = 9.07 . 127)= 1. either rapid visual then rapid auditory or rapid auditory then rapid visual were entered into the equation./? < . Relation of Rapid Temporal With Orthographic and Phonological Processing As with Table 2 in Experiment 1.64* .49 .8%) benefited more from orthographic priming than low orthographic similarity pairs (d= 15.001.61* .57* . 127) = 9. Orthographic priming.73* . This finding is consistent with the differential development model presented in Figure 1.73 *p < . and nonwords naming.91. Table 5 displays the results of hierarchical regression equations predicting standard words. The adults with high scores had quicker access to higher quality phonological representations allowed them to use this information for target identification more often than did the adults with low scores. In addition.71* .38* . In contrast to the ability differences for the children in Experiment 1.63* .. See Experiment 1 for a discussion of these effects. F(l. exception words.32. which argues that there should be pervasive phonological-processing deficits in adults with severe reading problems.15.64 Nonwords .58 . adults with high naming accuracy scores (d=29A%) did not exhibit significantly more orthographic priming than did those with low naming accuracy scores (d =21.16 .73* . high orthographic similarity pairs (d = 35.91.p < .8%).71 Exception Words .8%).

17 .17 .23.76.23 .12 .38 Orthographic Priming . the correlation between rapid visual and rapid auditory ability in adults was not significant. which argues for the absence of a relation between rapid visual ability and orthographic processing in adults.and phonological-processing problems in adults with reading impairment should be associated with deficient rapid auditory ability.p = . In contrast to the findings with rapid visual ability.30. orthographic processing.01. <31) = 0. p = . This is not due to a ceiling effect or limited variability in performance on the rapid visual ability or naming measures.17 *p < . rapid auditory ability explained unique variance in both orthographic processing. /? < . . Next.16 .05 for the unique variance explained by that variable when entered into the equation. This suggests that the temporal-processing deficits in the children with reading impairment may reflect a common underlying problem.16 . t(3l) = 0. £(31) = 2.80. These results support the differential development model presented in Figure 1.20.38 . either rapid visual then rapid auditory or rapid auditory then rapid visual were entered into the equation. These results also support the differential development model that argues orthographic.35* .01.126 BOOTH ETAL. p< . In contrast to the children with reading impairment. J(31) = 2. rapid auditory processing may have explained unique variance in pseudohomophone priming because IQ did not account for much variance in the hierarchical regression equation.37 . r(31) = .35 . and phonological processing.52. Rapid temporal processing did not explain significant variance in priming in the adults with reading impairment after partialling for age and IQ.p = . Age then IQ were entered into the equation.84. TABLE 6 Hierarchical Regression Equations Predicting (Multiple R) Pseudohomophone and Orthographic Priming in Experiment 2 for the Adults Who Were Reading Impaired iphone Priming Age IQ Rapid visual Rapid auditory Rapid auditory Rapid visual . whereas the adults' reading problems may result from a more specific deficit in rapid auditory processing. Table 6 displays the prediction of pseudohomophone and orthographic priming by the rapid temporal ability measures. The adults exhibited levels of variability comparable to those of the children (see Tables 1 and 4). or phonological processing.66. In contrast for the children with reading impairment in Experiment 1.

there should also be a relation between rapid auditory ability and orthographic-processing skill in adults. 1986). 1999. . In contrast. however.ORTHOGRAPHIC AND PHONOLOGICAL PROCESSING 127 GENERAL DISCUSSION Support for the Differential Development Model The goal of this study was to test the differential development model of readers with impairment (presented in Figure 1). The children with reading impairment in Experiment 1 showed large deficits on both the exception words measure of orthographic processing and the nonwords measure of phonological processing compared to standard words processing. rapid visual ability did not explain variance in orthographic or phonological processing. individual differences in representing rapid visual information explained unique variance in orthographic processing. Furthermore. Individual differences in representing rapid auditory information. Indeed. and semantic systems are interactively connected (Plaut & Booth. there should be a strong relation between rapid auditory ability and phonological processing in adults. and individual differences in representing rapid auditory information explained unique variance in phonological processing.. 1999). did explain unique variance in phonological as well as orthographic processing. even though there was substantial variance on all of these measures. The adults with reading impairment in Experiment 2 showed relatively small deficits in the exception words measure of orthographic processing but relatively large deficits in the nonwords measure of phonological processing. the differential development model argues that orthographic-processing deficits are a reading delay condition and should diminish by adulthood. phonological. in children. Thus. Thus. and phonological processing in a group of children and adults with reading impairment. Thus. there should not be a relation between rapid visual ability and orthographic processing in adults. inaccurate phonological representations and should continue to adulthood (Harm & Seidenberg. The snowballing effect of early deficits on later reading development in other areas has been referred to as the Matthew Effect (Stanovich. However. 1995). rapid visual ability deficits should be associated with orthographic-processing problems and that rapid auditory ability deficits should be associated with phonological-processing problems (Farmer & Klein. 1996). Furthermore. the differential development model argues that phonological deficits are associated with incomplete. rapid auditory ability. This required the measurement of rapid visual ability. orthographic processing. early deficits in rapid auditory ability and phonological-processing skills may even produce deficits with orthographic processing later in development because the orthographic. Plaut et al. The results of this study were largely consistent with the differential development model. The differential development model argues that.

& Foltz. 1985) with orthographic and phonological processing. this study employed only two measures of orthographic and phonological processing. 1996. Implications for Remedial Intervention The findings of this study have some general. further studies should include control populations who are given all the experimental measures so more definite conclusions can be drawn regarding the absolute magnitude of deficits at different ages. We suggest that low word identification skills in children and adults may be associated with a pervasive deficit in phonological and rapid auditory ability. Stanovich & Siegel. implications.versus discrepant-based definitions of reading impairment (Shaywitz et al. future studies should more directly examine the relation of rapid perceptual ability with orthographic and phonological processing in absolute versus discrepant populations. this study examined children and adults with reading impairment with a wide range of IQ scores. 1994). It appears that with increasing reading exposure adults may be able to effectively develop their orthographic-processing skills.. 1985) and whether rapid auditory processing is related to other phonological measures (Wagner et al. Kliegl.. further research should examine whether rapid visual processing is related to other orthographic measures (Olson. Because we believe that these processes are inherently interactive. Siegel. Further studies should examine the relation of individuation tasks in the auditory and visual modalities (McCroskey & Kidder.128 BOOTH ETAL. may be marked by a deficit in orthographic processing that is related to deficits in rapid visual ability. Davidson. To test the generality of our findings. our rapid visual and auditory-processing measures may be contaminated by short-term memory demands. but not in adults. Although the results of our study produced some provocative findings. 1980. We accounted for this variability by partialling out the effects of IQ from the relevant analyses. so it is difficult to interpret the effects involving perceptual ability to only differences in transient processing. 1994.. This suggests that children with deficits in visual and orthographic processing may ... This study also suggests that lower identification skills in certain children. 1994). 1996. 1994). In light of the current controversy over absolute. this study only included a limited sample of control children that were given only a subset of the experimental tasks. This implies that children and adults with deficits in these areas would benefit from an extensive intervention program involving a combination of auditory discrimination and phonological training (Merzenich et al. training at one level would not be as successful as training at both the auditory and phonological levels. Fourth. but tentative. 1992. Tallal et al. Second. Third. First. Wagner et al. Extensions of This Study There are several ways in which the results of this study can be extended. Slaghuis & Lovegrove. 1992.

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(1987). R. and Grade Equivalents for the Standard Words Measure for the Children and Adults With Reading Impairment in Experiments 1 and 2. Standard Scores. Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests—Revised. SD= 15. Woodcock. W. 1999 Accepted September 20. Manuscript received January 19. 1999 APPENDIX Mean Percentile Ranks. MN: American Guidance Service. Circle Pines. Respectively Children Percentile rank Standard score" Grade equivalentb 6 63 4-0 Adults 12 77 6-10 'M= 100. The first number is the year. .132 BOOTH ET AL. 1999 Final revision received August 23. and the second number is the month.

The subjects were required to recognize a target Chinese character or English word with ERP recorded. A particular interesting contrast is between Chinese and English. ERP results showed that the visual analysis of Chinese was more difficult than English at the first term. This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BN0113243 and SBE-0354420. The separation of visual analysis and lexical access at the second term indicates a threshold style processing of Chinese characters for the learners with moderate reading proficiency. Chinese. a non-alphabetic writing system. provides a case of high contrast for alphabetic systems. Charles A. characters. pronunciation.2006 2006-0-007-003-000171-1 Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters by Chinese as Second Language Readers Ying Liu12.LANGUAGE AND LINGUISTICS 7. . Faster lexical access was obtained for familiar characters at the first term. and National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant 30470567. and Min Wang3 2 University of Pittsburgh Liaoning Normal University 3 University of Maryland 1 To assess the learning of word form. ERP. The orthographic processing of characters and words was extracted as a 200ms component by Principle Component Analysis (PCA). It was sensitive to visual analysis and lexical access respectively. Key words: Chinese as a second language. but not the second term. The semantic processing was extracted as a 400ms component (N400). do not represent phonemes. we carried out Event Related Potential (ERP) experiments with learners of Chinese at the end of their first and second terms of Chinese class at an American university. The lexical access was more difficult and the semantic processing was slower for Chinese than English at both terms. They named filler targets indicated by a signal 1000ms after the onset of the stimuli. sinograms 1. but not the second term.3:637-657. Introduction One issue that recently raised lots of interest was how the characteristic of writing system influences the reading process. Perfetti1. and meaning in an unfamiliar writing system. but rather morphemic (meaning-bearing) syllables. Its graphic units. The 200ms PCA component was negative at occipital (N200) and positive at frontal electrodes (P200).

as it does in English (Chua 1999. For example.Ying Liu. Liu & Tan 2005). Wang 1973. Zhang. a successful lexical access needs the activation of all three constituents. This three-radical compound is related in meaning to its left radical and in pronunciation to its right radical (notice that the pronunciation similarity in this case includes phonemes but not tone). The radical input and the phonological levels of the model can be considered distributed representations. Perfetti & Yang 1999). Simulation clearly captures the pattern of graphic priming at shorter SOA. In the modern Simplified Chinese writing system there are a total of 7. Chinese and alphabetic systems are similar at this general level. Liu & Tan 2005). hence. Its input units are radicals and spatial relationship between the radicals. basic units that can sometimes give a cue to the pronunciation and meaning of characters. Zhou 1978). phonological. 638 . Tzeng & Hung 1978. and semantic constituents across which activation spreads. Perfetti & Tan 1998.. Hoosain & Osgood 1983. Hff qing 'sunshine' consists of B + ff.g. whereas the orthographic and semantic representations can be considered localized representations. Baron & Strawson 1976. There are also even more complex characters composed of three or more radicals. the activation level of the target. such as flf qing 'green'. More specifically. is nearer to threshold than it would be otherwise. Pollatsek & Potter 1999. despite the differences in their input units (characters vs. The facilitation occurs because visually similar orthographic units are activated by the same radical. whereas it turns into inhibition under longer SOA. Zhang & Berent 1992. Chen. There are also lots of compound characters containing two radicals. so with a graphic prime. with important processing differences in details (Perfetti. Y. Rastle.785 characters with 623 radicals (Li & Liu 1988). Xu. Perfetti & Zhang 1995. which is composed by a top and a bottom radical. Chinese is processed at a threshold style and English at a cascade style (Coltheart. 0 ri 'sun' is a simple character consisting of only one radical. and Min Wang Chinese characters are composed of radicals. letters) and mapping functions (syllables vs. Thus. The threshold style processing of Chinese is illustrated by the interactive constituency model (Perfetti. In the model. Perfetti. The model is a network of linked units of orthographic. Perry. Zhou & Marslen-Wilson 1996). For example. phonemes). Yung & Ng 1988. recent behavioral studies lead to the conclusion that automatic activation of both meaning and pronunciation occurs in reading Chinese characters. Charles A. Even though a writing system with these properties encourages the hypothesis that reading in Chinese is strictly a visual-form-to-meaning process (e. which shares a radical with the prime. initial graphic facilitation without the orthographic unit of prime character itself reaching threshold. Langdon & Ziegler 2001). But the compound pronunciation and meaning are not always consistent with its radicals (Perfetti.

It was concluded that the learners process Chinese in a threshold 639 . with no phonological (-5ms) or semantic (-11ms) effect. Liu. The net result is a competition that delays the identification of the target longer for the graphically related condition than unrelated control. Children in higher grades and adults were also found to be sensitive to radical legality effects (Peng. and they feed input to the orthographic units. Wang. Taft. This result suggests that learners acquired the orthographic analysis skill rather quickly and process the character form similarly to native Chinese speakers. However. the appearance of the target keeps the prime orthographic unit activated longer than it should be. graphic inhibition and phonological facilitation simultaneously emerge. there were 66ms semantic facilitation and a marginal phonological facilitation (27ms) at the end of the second term. allowing phonological and semantic priming effects to occur. The result showed that the first term learners were not able to reach the orthographic threshold within the 500ms SOA. Li & Yang 1997. orthographic analysis of component radicals and their positional information is important for character recognition. but because it does not share a radical with the target. the orthographic unit of the prime is competing with the target. and meaning retrieval. Wang & Perfetti (2006) tapped into the issue of constituency processing more specifically by using a primed naming paradigm with a fixed 500ms SGA on the learners.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters When an orthographic unit does reach threshold. Shu & Anderson (1999) found that first and second graders can differentiate legal or illegal radical positions in non-characters. the target unit can suppress the prime unit very quickly. The results showed 61ms of orthographic facilitation at the end of the first term of learning. which is similar to the longer SOAs of native speakers (Perfetti & Tan 1998). the orthographic facilitation disappeared. This pattern is similar to native Chinese speakers when the SOA is as short as 43ms (Perfetti & Tan 1998). Instead. This competition can occur with a prime that is not graphically similar to the target. But because it has reached threshold. What about those learning Chinese as a second language (CSL)? What relevance is the theory to alphabet-users when they read Chinese? Does a CSL learner read Chinese in a way similar to native Chinese speakers? There are three components related to the issue: orthographic analysis. Perfetti & Liu (2003) found CSL learners were also sensitive to the structure composition of Chinese characters. phonological access. two important form priming effects are simulated successfully within the same processing timeline. it sends its activation to the phonological and semantic units. Of these components. but the second term learners could. Thus. at the end of the second term. and were able to identify simple characters better than compound characters. Zhu & Peng 1999). After a brief period of pre-threshold graphic facilitation. because of the radical shared by the prime and target orthographic units. The theory currently applies mainly to native speakers of Chinese. More importantly. followed by a semantic facilitation.

Spinks. Tan et al. Liu. which had very similiar temporal features in Chinese reading (Liu. 2000).Ying Liu. which is sensitive to orthographic and phonological level processing (Kramer & Donchin 1987). neuroimaging measures have also been used to compare Chinese and English reading. Fox & Gao 2001. Tan & Thiel 1999. Besides behavioral measures. and Min Wang style similar to native Chinese speakers. including the N200. Rugg 1984). Tan. Perfetti. Tan et al. 2001. Evidence from alphabetic research has converged on identification of a network of brain areas that functions in skilled reading. on the other hand. Liu. Feng. Liu & Zhang 1993). Liu & Fox 2000). in frontal areas. Fox & Gao 2003. Charles A. Event Related Potential (ERP). Hoon & Chee 2000. Recent development of high spatial density ERP recording (more than 64 channels) made it possible to more accurately locate the cortex source for the scalp recorded electrical signal. Fletcher & Tan 2003. Stofer. Laird. (1999) identified a fuller range of time points for reading process associated with inferred brain regions. provides millisecond level neuronal activity data during a cognitive task. Soon. However. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (IMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are more direct measures. Spinks. Jin & Tan 2004. Tan et al. Weekes. Xiong. such as N200 (negative at occipital and positive at frontal electrodes) and N400. Pu. ERP results also confirmed the ERP components. Lee. 2001. Perfetti. Perfetti. Tan et al. they are indirect measures of brain functions. Siok. a left superior temporal and inferior parietal region for phonological processing. neuroimaging studies of Chinese have developed a picture of the functional neuroanatomy that is partly convergent and partly divergent with the results of alphabetic studies. Perfetti & Hart 2003. Perfetti. Even though behavioral experiments can provide valuable information on the reading process. Li & Fox 2005. Spinks. ERP recordings produce characteristic voltage shifts (components) that have been associated with reading processes. Tan. but they cannot separate cognitive processes that happen within tens or hundreds of milliseconds. Siok. Schreiber. Valdes-Sosa. Jin. Liu & Perfetti (2003) used 128 channel ERP to compare the reading of 640 . 2000). For example. the left fusiform gyrus is activated in Chinese reading as it is in alphabetic reading (Chee. Chinese shows less activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus and more activation in the left middle frontal gyrus at BA 9 (Siok. Mechelli. Gao. Chee. Tan. and a left inferior frontal gyrus for semantic processing (Fiez & Petersen 1998. Gorno-Tempini & Price 2003. Gonzalez. Perfetti. Recently. a result also seen in an ERP study by Liu & Perfetti (2003). In addition. Chinese shows additional right hemisphere activation in occipital and fusiform regions (Tan. including a left ventral occipito-temporal pathway for orthographic processing. Price 2000). Bentin et al. and the N400 (N450) which is sensitive to both phonology and meaning (Kutas & Hillyard 1980. Xiong.

but not English. Methods and materials 2. 2. Instead. namely the preparation of a spoken word form for overt reading. They were paid for their participation. Twenty-two subjects had English as their native language and the other three had alphabetic writing system languages (Tai and Vietnamese). The results showed a left to right occipital shift during 100-200ms when Chinese-English bilinguals read Chinese. High density ERP was recorded to compare the reading of Chinese and English at two levels of reading proficiency. In order to explore temporal and spatial brain activity during Chinese and English word processing by CSL learners. This task assures that orthographic and phonological processes are engaged and may be detected in the 1000ms time window prior to the actual naming which may cause artifacts in the ERP signal. By temporally and spatially comparing the ERP indicators of learners with the results from native Chinese speakers in the literature. 2. unpublished manuscript) and tallied the number of appearances 641 . enrolled in an elementary Chinese class at the University of Pittsburgh. Furthermore. All subjects had normal or corrected to normal vision and were free of medication within one week before the experiment and had no history of neurological diseases. participated in the experiment at the end of their first term (12-15 weeks learning. we can obtain evidence on whether learners read Chinese in a cascade or threshold style. we adopted the design of the above study and applied it to learners. The task was delayed naming. a task that (a) allows the examination of a single word reading event and (b) requires a specific reading process. if ERP records are sensitive to word reading. although they tend to start from more commonly used characters as native Chinese speakers do. we created a computerized curriculum file based on the textbook (Barnes. 12 hours a week).Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters Chinese and English by Chinese-English bilinguals. The age of the subjects ranged from 19 to 28.2 Stimuli The Chinese-corpus based character frequency (Li & Liu 1988) does not apply to these learners very well. It was also found that the temporally similar N400 components of Chinese and English have different sources in the cortex. None of the subjects had been formally exposed to any Chinese environment before taking the class. then we should see a specific ERP indicator of a well-established word processing variable such as word frequency for both Chinese and English.1 Participants Twenty four undergraduate students (14 male and 10 female).

and Min Wang for each character by a computer program.Ying Liu. Four experimental conditions were defined by language and frequency: high frequency Chinese characters (43. Any character that appeared fewer than three times did not enter further material selection. a two-second blank interval occurred instead of a naming signal indicating naming was not required. followed in two seconds by the waiting signal of the next trial. which was exposed for 1500ms. which enabled our curriculum-based frequency to serve as a corpus-based frequency and provide a very good estimate of the character familiarity level. with the English and Chinese blocks counter-balanced across subjects. 2. Perfetti. each randomly mixed with high and low frequency characters or words. When the subject pressed the space bar. high (136. A 128 Channel Geodesic Sensor Net (Electrical Geodesies Incorporated. a fixation "+" appeared on the screen for 500ms. 2. Subjects were told not to move their eyes or blink them once a trial had begun. a naming signal appeared 1500ms after the onset of the stimulus. In total. In 20% of the trials (fillers).4 EEG recording and averaging A 15-inch CRT monitor working at 60Hz refresh rate presented the stimuli. followed by the stimulus. One Chinese and one English block were presented.2/million) English words (Kucera & Francis 1967). low frequency Chinese characters (9. the subjective familiarity assessed by the same group of subjects was highly correlated with the curriculum-based frequency (Wang. USA) recorded the EEG data. but were encouraged to blink between trials. Subjects were told to have the pronunciation of the word in mind and be ready to produce when the naming signal appeared. there were 261 characters in the first term curriculum occurring from 3 to 287 times. we used this curriculum-based frequency to select Chinese materials. The radical and stroke numbers were matched between high and low frequency Chinese characters. For the other 80% of the trials (experimental stimuli). Perfetti & Liu 2003). Word length of high and low frequency English words were also matched. Charles A. Russell & 642 . Luu. Thirty-two experimental stimuli and 8 fillers of the same type appeared in each condition. Thus in the present study. All impedances were kept below 40KQ (Ferree. The teaching method used at University of Pittsburgh discouraged any additional study of Chinese beyond the textbook. Oregon. Furthermore.675/6248 curriculum).35/6248 curriculum).3 Procedure Participants named 20% of the stimuli in all conditions.1/million) and low frequency (1. Each trial began with a waiting signal (-***-) that remained in the center of the screen until the subject initiated the trial.

2. PCA extracts a small number of uncorrelated components from a large number of variables.1 and 200 Hz. which in temporal PCA are time points. Rugg & Taylor 2000). Ruchkin. Hillyard. T8. Bentin. The grand averaged ERP waveforms were calculated for each condition. P4. Waveforms at the frontal electrodes have similar polarity as Cz. C4. van Boxtel 1998) Our temporal PCA was carried out on subject averages. Donchin. Miller. but the parietal and occipital electrodes are reversed in polarity to Cz at some time points. The signals were recorded at 500 Hz. there are negative shifts at both 01 and 02. F4.320 observations (129 electrodes. Berg. based on the recordings of experimental trials that contained no artifact. Temporal Principle Component Analysis (PCA) was used to analyze the data instead of traditional mean amplitudes. and a 400ms negative shift. Input for the PCA was a data matrix of 10. and 02 in 10-20 system) are shown in Figure 1 in microvolts. As a data driven method. three large shifts at Cz can be seen: a 100ms negative shift. By visually inspecting the waveforms. The most salient reversion is that at 200ms. 3. Cz. Each PCA component has a factor loading on each time point which is more objective than the human defined 0/1 weighted time window in the mean amplitude method. C3. A vertex reference was used in the recording and the data were recomputed off-line against the average reference.5 Data analysis Twenty subjects provided data for ERP analysis (data from four subjects with a high percentage of trials that contained artifact were rejected). ERPs were averaged off-line over the experimental trials in each condition after the elimination of artifacts followed by a baseline correction and a 30 Hz software low pass filter. PCA scores were used as dependent measures in ANOVAs to test the effects of experimental manipulations. 643 . The hardware filter was between 0. Results Grand averaged outputs from 13 electrodes (F3. 01. The computation used correlation matrix with Varimax rotation (Picton. Six eye channels allowed rejection of trials with eye movements and blinks. from target onset to 1000ms post-onset. Ritter. Pz. Fz. Johnson.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters Tucker 2001). a 200ms positive shift. T7. 20 subjects and 4 stimuli types) by 100 time samples. P3. based on 100 10-ms time samples. Simulations have shown that PCA can effectively decompose ERP signal into latent components (Chapman & McCrary 1995.

rises slowly from 200ms to its maximum at 1000ms. The eigenvalues of these five components are shown in Figure 2 and the component loadings at each time sample are shown in Figure 3 (note that "component" here does not refer to a voltage shift but to a PCA component). sometimes a result of the baseline correction and autocorrelated nature of ERP data (Wastell 1981). Charles A. explaining 95. a slow wave component.3% explained variance) rises from 150ms with a peak loading at 190ms. In 644 .1 PCA components The PCA extracted a small number of uncorrected components from the 100 variables corresponding to 100 10-ms ERP time samples.Ying Liu. and Min Wang Figure 1: Term 1 Grand Averaged Waveforms 3. Component 2 (20. Five components had eigenvalues larger than 1.9% explained variance). The average component scores are positive at all frontal and central electrodes.5% of the total variance. Perfetti. The loading lasts until 350ms. and negative for all parietal and occipital electrodes. Component 1 (46. This slow-wave component is widely found in PCA on ERP.

C3. T7. 645 .4 0.2 ANOVA We carried out two ANOVAs.2% explained variance) is a very early component.4 L> * y ± '•""•.8 0.5 at 150ms. Component 5 (1.-i _ •Component 1 "Component 2 ■Component 3 .6 •rH a _ .6% explained variance) peaks at 450ms. It starts from the onset of stimuli and the component loading turns lower than . These two components fit our temporal window of interest and entered further analysis.2 0 -0. P4. -■r--"--"r---. Cz. It lasts from 350ms to 600ms and is negative at most electrodes. Of the five components above. C 0. P3. -Eigenvalue Component Component Component Component Component 12 3 4 5 Figure 2: Term 1 PC A Components Eigenvalues 1 0. two and four respectively correspond to N200/P200 and N400 based on their latency and shape. C4. Component 3 (17.2 -0. F4. a 150-300ms parietal and occipital negative shift and a frontal and central positive shift can be observed (Figure 1).Component 4 800 ■Component 5 03 O 200 400 600 Figure 3: Term 1 PC A Component Loadings 3.5% explained variance) peaks at 130ms. Component 4 (9. one testing the PCA scores for three medial electrodes (Fz.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters the ERP waveform.-. and Pz) and one for ten lateral electrodes (F3.

Perfetti.5 • N200 Fz W^ N200 02 1 I j □ English high ^English low N400 Cz Figure 4: Term 1 Component Scores of N200 at Fz and 02. p<.261).76)=4.38)=21.. F(2.001. Epsilon=. Charles A.MSE=181).Ying Liu.5 ■ -1 ■ in- BChinese high ■ Chinese low o.p<01.46.417. MSE=. For Chinese stimuli. F(4. Epsilon=723. lateral language x site. 1. p<.5 -| o. The P200 of Chinese high frequency characters were more positive than low frequency characters at central frontal electrodes (medial frequency x site. Each was a repeated-measure ANOVA with language (Chinese and English).01. and 02). The Greenhouse & Geisser (1959) correction was applied when the sphericity assumption was not satisfied. p_<.5. MSE=249. Epsilon =. MSE=.05.76)=23. The ANOVA for the lateral electrodes added occipital and temporal to the site factor and hemisphere as the fourth factor. and Min Wang T8. lateral site effect.515).19)=31. the P200 component scores were more positive at frontal electrodes. F(l. p_<001. F( 1.568. 01.19) =8.623. Epsilon=. right frontal and right central electrodes (lateral language. central and parietal electrodes (medial language. English were significantly more negative than Chinese at medial frontal.78. Compared with high frequency English words. The Epsilon value is reported here only when adjustment of freedom was performed.532). MSE=. The component scores are shown for selected electrodes (Figure 4).38)=6. and the N200 scores were more negative at parietal and right occipital electrodes than for English (medial language x site. Both N200/P200 and N400 components produced reliable differences among conditions.402.68. MSE=.001.38)=5.01. F(l. F(4.01. p<.215.28. N200/P200. Post hoc t-tests between conditions (without adjustment for multiple comparisons) were carried out (t values not presented here) when the overall ANOVA showed reliable condition effects.20.674. MSE=2. p<.76)=5. frequency (high and low). The component scores were positive at frontal and central electrodes and negative at posterior electrodes (medial site effect. -0. p<.096). and parietal) as factors. and the P200 of English high frequency words were more positive than low frequency words at left central electrode (lateral frequency x site. low frequency English words elicited more negative N400 at a left frontal electrode (lateral frequency. MSE=390. and site (frontal.—I—sSsi—L_J—r -1. N400 at Cz 646 . central. Epsilon=495). Both language and frequency effects were observed in this component.569). N400. F(4. p<. F(2.38.19)= 15.01. F(2. MSE=1.60.

enrolled in the same elementary Chinese class as in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 4. Component 4 (11. rises from 270 through 600ms. Component 2 (28. They were paid for their participation. Grand averaged waveform is shown in Figure 5. participated in the experiment at the end of their second term (27-30 weeks learning including first term. Experiment procedures and materials were the same as those used in experiment 1. The first five component loadings are shown in Figure 7 and their features are described below. The eigenvalues of these six components are shown in Figure 6. Component 3 (18. N200/P200 (component 3) and N400 (component 2) fit our temporal window of interest and entered further analysis. and negative at all parietal and occipital electrodes. There are a 15 0-3 00ms parietal and occipital negative shift and a frontal and central positive shift in the ERP waveform (Figure 5). 12 hours a week).6% explained variance) is a very early component.9% explained variance) rises from 150ms with a peak loading at 230ms.7% of the total variance.5 at 90ms. PCA extracted a small number of uncorrelated components from the 100 time sample variables.5% explained variance) peaks at 430ms. This component is similar to the N200/P200 in experiment 1. All subjects had normal or corrected to normal vision and were free of medication within one week before experiment and had no history of neurological diseases.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters 4. The average component scores are positive at all frontal and central electrodes. It starts to rise from the onset of stimuli and the component loading turns lower than . 647 . Component5 (11. The loading lasts until 330ms. It can be seen that there is a sharp decrease of eigenvalue from the fifth to the sixth component. The amplitude shifts in the waveforms are similar to experiment 1. 4. explaining 95.2% explained variance). rises slowly from 450ms to its maximum at 1000ms. The age of the subjects ranged from 19 to 28. Component 1 (48. a slow wave component.2 Results Fourteen subjects provided data for further analysis after the artifact rejection.1 Participants Seventeen undergraduate students (nine male and eight female).1% explained variance) peaks at 120ms. Six components had eigenvalues larger than 1. Among the five components above.

Chinese__Hgh ■ .Ying Liu. Perfetti. Charles A. and Min Wang yx****** [yw jj^r^^s 200 400 600 800 .&iglish_Hgh .Chinese_Low Biglish_Low Figure 5: Term 2 Grand Averaged Waveforms ♦ Eigenvalue # OF Figure 6: Term 2 PC A Components Eigenvalues .

05 with no adjustment). N400. lateral site language x hemisphere interaction. P4 (medial site language effect. p<. p<.13)=4.52)=7.6 0.4 0.'■•. C4. F(l. N400 at Cz . The N400 was significantly more negative for English than Chinese at Fz.192) which was due to the low frequency English words being more negative than high frequency English words at Cz (p<. lateral site language effect. The slow wave.943. The P200 was much more positive for Chinese than English at left and middle frontal (lateral language x lobe. F4.401. MSE=.05.619. p<.8 0. p=. F(l.025.957).056. S Chinese high ■ Chinese low □ English high □ English low N200 Fz N200 02 N400 Cz Figure 8: Term 2 Component Scores of N200 at Fz and 02.01.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters 1 0. F(4. MSE=523. MSE=. Cz.13)=5.309.2 0 -0.681.414).05. N200/P200 and N400 components produced reliable differences among conditions. p<.01.593. PCA scores of N200/P200 and N400 are shown in Figure 8 for selected electrodes.13)=27. and Pz. N200/P200. There was also near significant frequency effect in medial site (F(l./' \/ *<""' *' 03 60 C •TH -O <ao 1 2 200 400 600 800 ms Figure 7: Term 2 PC A Component Loadings 4. There was significant language effect. Epsilon=. MSE=.2 r ■Conponent ■Component -Component -Component Component 1 2 3 4 5 .13)= 4. MSE=. F(l.3 ANOVA The ANOVA procedure was the same as in Experiment 1.

649 .

The amplitude of N200 was larger for English (the second language) than Chinese (the first language). They were named P2a and N2b respectively. N200/P200 was larger for Chinese than English at both frontal and occipital electrodes. Chinese-English bilinguals performed a delayed naming task with ERP collected.Ying Liu. There was no Chinese familiarity effect at the second term. Lemer. N2b preceded the P200 by nearly 30ms in the object detection task. (2001. 2001. N400 was larger for English than Chinese at frontal and central electrodes. and N400 was significantly more negative for English than Chinese at right frontal. The reduction has been attributed to the pre-activation of orthographic form of the target. and negative at occipital electrodes. The N200/P200 in above studies had a similar distribution as the present study: positive at frontal and central electrodes. The left occipital/fusiform region is a visual word form analysis region widely found in English reading by fMRI and other methods (Cohen. Rivaud & Dehaene 2002. 2003) found that Chinese materials elicited stronger activation at right occipital/fusiform (visual analysis) and left middle frontal regions (lexical access) than English. Poline et al. It has also been found in other paradigms that two components between 180 and 300ms were sensitive to object detection (Potts & Tucker 2001). Nobre. the N200 component was significantly larger at right occipital and the P200 was significantly larger at left and middle frontal electrodes 650 . and Min Wang 5. Comparing Chinese and English directly. P200 was significantly more positive for Chinese than English at left and middle frontal electrodes. Its amplitude was reduced when the target Chinese character was preceded by an orthographically similar prime character. Lehericy. N200/P200 has been found by Liu & Perfetti (2003) as a component sensitive to orthographical processing. Perfetti. In the present study. Cohen. Allison & McCarthy 1998). Chochon. The P2a and N2b interacted between orbitofrontal cortical areas of salience representation and posterior cortical areas of stimulus feature representations. both N200/P200 and N400 components showed language difference between Chinese and English stimuli. In another study by Liu & Perfetti (2003). because word processing does require feature detection of visual object and meaningful words are salient to the readers. Charles A. central. Discussion We found that at the first term. At the second term. Mangin. but N200 did not show language difference at occipital electrodes. Tan et al. Naccache. and parietal electrodes. Conversely. Chinese familiarity effect was only observed at the first term: A larger P200 for high familiarity words at frontal electrodes. The N200/P200 in the present study has some functional relations with the P2a/N2b component. Bihan. not only the left but also the right occipital/fusiform regions are involved. In Chinese reading. Dehaene.

Wang & Perfetti 2006). This finding is consistent with the behavioral result that no orthographic priming was found at second term (Liu. after the lexical access is started. the difference between first and second terms unveiled the functional difference of their underlying processing. the lexical access difference at frontal was retained. the frontal P200 might show more lexical access difficulty for low frequency characters 651 . The first term Chinese familiarity effect suggests that the N200/P200 is an informative indicator of orthographic processing speed. The spatial and functional separation of the N200/P200 component also provides further evidence that the learners might process Chinese characters in threshold style at the second term. This result was consistent with the behavioral finding that learners can quickly learn the character structure (Wang. but visual analysis had been rather quickly accommodated. the difficulty of accessing familiar and unfamiliar characters is not very different. (2006) found significant orthographic priming in the first term learners.Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters for Chinese than English. or one radical at the same position. which well matched the fMRI findings (Tan. However. The occipital N200 reflects the fact that the visual processing of Chinese and English had different speed and strength at the first term. because the vocabulary of the subjects was limited. Eden. Perfetti & Siok 2005). Because the N200 and P200 were highly correlated temporally. Perfetti & Liu 2003). Both types of similarities facilitated the target identification at visual analysis level. Liu et al. which indicates a threshold style processing. Furthermore. our temporal PCA did not separate them into two components. even though very likely there is some kind of fine grain difference not measured by ERP. The observed separation of visual analysis and lexical access at 200ms supports the assumption that accompanying the increase of reading proficiency. In that study. the orthographically similar pairs either shared some strokes that appear at the same spatial position. Spinks. For the second term learners. visual analysis was faster for both familiar and unfamiliar characters which caused earlier lexical access for both and reduced the speed difference between them. which indicated that reading Chinese was still a demanding task at the lexical access level. the visual analysis skill on Chinese characters was significantly improved at the second term so that no significant language difference was found at occipital electrodes. For the first term learners. However. Larger P200 at frontal electrodes reflects the earlier lexical access of high frequency characters in the first term. Chinese had larger amplitude at N200/P200 which indicated more visual processing (occipital) and lexical access (frontal and central) effort were needed for processing Chinese because of high demand of visual analysis and lexical retrieval. However. There is a possibility that with more experience in Chinese (a larger vocabulary). the sinogram is lexically accessed after the orthographic processing has been completed at visual analysis level. at the second term.

Spinks.01. but not for Chinese characters. However. but only in the first term. However. and to fit the new learned writing system. Eden. However. We propose an accommodation hypothesis whereby the brain of alphabetic users accommodates to the Chinese writing system during the learning process. After the completion of visual analysis. and Min Wang (Liu & Perfetti 2003). Perfetti. Even though Liu et al. still it is much longer than the 85ms SOA used for native speakers (Perfetti & Tan 1998). The present study supports the contention that learners read Chinese characters similar to native Chinese speakers after two terms of learning.Ying Liu. Rugg 1984). N400 has been widely used as an indicator of semantic and phonological processing (Kutas & Hillyard 1980. Perfetti & Siok 2005). It showed that the semantic processing on Chinese of the learners was too slow to be in the measuring range of N400. not being able to observe a strong N400 component indicates that the semantic and phonological activations are still weak even though the orthographical threshold has been reached within 200ms. because the alphabetic way does not work well on a non-alphabetic system. (2006) found semantic priming with a 500ms SOA. processing Chinese orthography can be separated into a visual analysis stage and a lexical access stage. the 14 subjects in the second term might not be able to provide enough statistical power to observe this effect. the underlying source on the cortex might be different because the observed difference is more left lateralized and inferior for English which is consistent with fMRI findings (Tan. Brain regions used by native Chinese speakers are also recruited to accomplish the task. 652 . lexical access follows immediately. Since ERP components require the neuronal activity to reach a certain level to be measured. the retrieval of semantic and phonological information is still slow and difficult to be observed via ERP. There was also a P200 familiarity effect (familiar > unfamiliar) at left central electrode for English. The learners might start out their character reading in a way similar to English reading. the brain non-coincidentally develops a processing method that is used by native Chinese speakers: threshold-style processing. One possibility is that it is a rather localized effect and the p value of ANOVA test is larger than . we found that for Chinese learners with alphabetic writing system background. The visual analysis stage focuses on stroke and radical processing which can be learned quite fast and accomplished within 200ms from the character onset. In summary. The N400 in the present two experiments was only observed in English materials. It is hard to explain why the English familiarity is only observed among the first term students. Charles A. So it is possible that this component shows some similarity between Chinese and English processing.

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Ying Liu, Charles A. Perfetti, and Min Wang

Valdes-Sosa, M., A. Gonzalez, X. Liu, X. L. Zhang et al. 1993. Brain potentials in a phonological matching task using Chinese characters. Neuropsychologia 31.8: 853-864. van Boxtel, G. J. M. 1998. Computational and statistical methods for analyzing event-related potential data. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers 30.1:87-102. Wang, M., C. A. Perfetti, and Y. Liu. 2003. Alphabetic readers quickly acquire orthographic structure in learning to read Chinese. Scientific Studies of Reading 7.2:183-208. Wang, W. S. Y. 1973. The Chinese language. Scientific American 228:50-60. Wastell, D. G. 1981. On the correlated nature of evoked brain activity: biophysical and statistical considerations. Biological Psychology 13:51-69. Xu, Y., A. Pollatsek, and M. C. Potter. 1999. The activation of phonology during silent Chinese word reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 25.4:838-857. Zhang, S., C. A. Perfetti, and H. Yang. 1999. Whole word, frequency-general phonology in semantic processing of Chinese characters. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 25.4:858-875. Zhou, X., and W. Marslen-Wilson. 1996. Direct visual access is the only way to access the Chinese mental lexicon. Proceedings of 18th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, ed. by G. Cottrell, 714-719. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Zhou, Y. 1978. To what degree are the "phonetics" of present-day Chinese characters still phonetic? Zhongguo Yuwen 1978.3:172-177.

[Received 30 May 2005; revised 24 August 2005; accepted 24 November 2005] Ying Liu Learning Research and Development Center University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA


Visual Analysis and Lexical Access of Chinese Characters



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The Golden Triangle of Reading Skill

Charles Perfetti

The triangle has presented a strong symbol through the ages, representing ideas in religion, astrology, and sexual identity, as well as more specialized denotations. For Example, in mathematics it is the symbol for a small difference, and on the dashboards of modern cars, the symbol for warning and emergency. Naturally, reading has its triangle as well: Triangle models of word identification represent the three constituents of written-word knowledge—graphic form (spelling), phonological form (pronunciation), and semantics (meaning). Triangle models generally denote the class of connectionist reading models (Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989) but, more specifically, versions of these models that exert a semantic influence on word identification (Harm & Seidenberg> 1999; Plaut, McClelland, Seidenberg, & Patterson, 1996).

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Given the prolific spread of triangle imagery—and despite the established status of the triangle as a representation of written word identification—I think proposing a new triangle is easily justified. The DVC triangle is the interconnected set of cognitive-linguistic components that make up general reading skill: decoding, vocabulary, and compre291


The DVC reading skill triangle. (See Footnote 1. depend on frequent exposures (exception words). extent. And both the decoding-vocabulary and the vocabulary-comprehension relations are reciprocally causal. Vocabulary (knowledge of the meaning of a word) affects decoding because decoding a word whose meaning is known strengthens the connection between the word's orthographic form (its spelling) and its meaning. for other purposes it is interpreted in its narrow sense of grapheme-phoneme conversion.. the decoding constituent consists of orthographic and phonological knowledge. which is especially helpful for words with exceptional or irregular spelling-pronunciation mappings and theoretically helpful for all words. is critical. while also illustrating causal relations among three critical constituents of reading skill (the sides of the triangle are directional arrows). who found that word identification of comprehension-impaired readers was especially slow in identifying words that. Because the three constituents are interconnected. but not to comprehension beyond the word directly. Evidence for a reciprocal causation across measurement points. thus strengthening form-meaning connections. and the DVC triangle represents this causal direction. and comprehension combine to produce general reading skill.g. so each has its own constituents. and Comprehension Vocabulary 293 hension.292 BRINGING READING RESEARCH TO LIFE Decoding. In English. Vocabulary-Comprehension Comprehension is obviously dependent on knowing the meanings of words being read. 1987). Abilities in decoding. 2001) A finer grained triangle model would be needed to distinguish these two identification processes. At the same time. they strengthen the identifiability of that word. has come only recently from a longitudinal study by Wagner (2005). Langdon. they strengthen their vocabulary knowledge. Thus the causation runs both ways between word meaning and comprehension. Decoding—Vocabulary Decoding affects vocabulary directly. as children decode words. and general-knowledge-based inference procedures. The complexity of the triangle is a matter of grain size—relatively fine or relatively coarse. comprehension includes a wide range of basic sentence. An important point in interpreting the triangle and in the discussion that follows is that a strict definition of decoding is the conversion of letter strings to phoneme strings. . Beck. Comprehension affects vocabulary (word meanings are learned from context) but not decoding directly. because successful decoding events (1) retrieve meanings of familiar words. extended text. the ability to access the meaning of the word. Rastle. as it applies in the context of this particular text. The importance of this meaning-to-form support is demonstrated by Nation and Snowling (1998). suggesting a way to conceptualize reading skill (it is the triangle itself).Vocabulary. Simply put.1 is primarily a heuristic. Each of these is a complex constituent rather than an elementary unit. For example. the coarse grain size shown in Figure 15. to some 1 Decoding Comprehension FIGURE 15.1. &c Ziegler. That multiple causes can underlie the general correlation between vocabulary knowledge and comprehension has long been recognized (e. vocabulary includes both a quantitative (number of words) component and a qualitative (specific word knowledge) component. however. At the moment a reader encounters a text. this word-specific process is needed for words whose spellings are exceptions to the dominant grapheme-to-phoneme mappings (Coltheart. It expresses the interconnections among decoding. and as children retrieve their knowledge of a word's meaning while decoding it. This process helps establish a word-specific representation.1 The DVC model in Figure 15. McKeown. and comprehension that are central to skilled reading. limitations in any one will affect at least one other constituent and will accordingly set a limit on overall skill. & Omanson. theoretically. 1981. Perry. Anderson & Freebody.) These two would be differentiated in a finer grained triangle model. vocabulary knowledge. For some purposes decoding can be interpreted in its broad sense of word identification. Decoding leads to a word's meaning. and (2) establish context-dependent links between unfamiliar words and meaning-bearing contexts.1 is about right. Word identification includes both decoding processes in this narrow sense and the retrieval of word-specific representations that uses knowledge about a word's spelling to identify it. vocabulary. achieving some comprehension from a segment of text that contains an unknown word also can cause the reader to learn something about the meaning of that word. For general descriptive purposes.

1999). misses some important details in lexical quality but captures the broad relations. . at closer distance. and all have causal links to knowledge sources outside the triangle. The decoding-comprehension correlation may also partly reflect their shared influences from outside the triangle (e. knowledge of word meanings is affected by pre-literacy exposure to vocabulary. Thus knowledge of word meanings (or vocabulary knowledge) has a pivotal position between word identification and comprehension (Perfetti. there is a strong causal relation between decoding and comprehension in that fluent or automatic decoding allows more processing resources to be available for comprehension (Perfetti. according to the model). and Comprehension 295 Decoding-Comprehension? The DVC triangle does not show causal arrows between decoding and comprehension in either direction. with feedback from comprehension back to the word knowledge level. This is because the effects of decoding on comprehension are mediated by knowing the meaning of the decoded word. And comprehending a text aids word identification. 1980). For example. & Oakhill. The particular DVC of Figure 15. According to the DVC and the LQH. a semantics-to-decoding connection helps to compensate for weak decoding skills (Snowling. 3. Perfetti & Hart. Nevertheless. as opposed to knowledge differences. 1995. by collapsing distinctions between orthographic and phonological knowledge and between word identification and decoding. which allows children to move from a reading process entirely dependent on phonological coding of printed word forms to a process that accesses words quickly based on their orthography (Share. The LQH claims that knowledge about word forms (phonological.2 shows a linear flow of knowledge of word form and meaning to the processes of word identification and comprehension. Decoding skill itself supports self-teaching of written-word representations.. and general intelligence). which is stunningly variable across demographic categories (Hart & Risley. has had the effect INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN LEXICAL QUALITY The DVC triangle identifies possible differences in reading skill at each point of the triangle and also at the four causal links (two for decod-ing-vocabulary and two for vocabulary-comprehension). especially for readers of low word reading skill (Perfetti. & Goulandris. 1985.. other linguistic knowledge. phonological knowledge. the search for cognitive mechanism differences. However. However. Skill in decoding (understood as word identification) will be predicted by vocabulary knowledge. In practical terms. But it is simple enough to summarize key relations in reading skill: 1.294 BRINGING READING RESEARCH TO LIFE Decoding. 1995). To convert the triangle into a processing scheme. note that assessments of decoding do correlate with assessments of comprehension (Perfetti. Figure 15. orthographic. These seven possible sources of reading skill variability obviously are not all independent. 1985). 2. 1994). Children with weak decoding skills may have to depend more on the vocabulary -> decoding side of the triangle. Skill in reading comprehension will be affected by skill in decoding and skill in vocabulary (which will not be independent.g.g.Vocabulary. knowledge of word meanings cannot be ignored in accounts of individual differences.1. Indeed. Note that this assumption rests on the logic of cognitive event sequences in reading and not on correlations of skill assessments. and morphemic knowledge) affects reading comprehension in both obvious and less obvious ways. The DVC triangle representation of individual differences approximates that captured by the lexical quality hypothesis (LQH—Perfetti. 2001). Stanovich. Skill in vocabulary will be affected by skill in comprehension and skill in decoding (which will be independent). The effects of comprehension on decoding are mediated by achieving enough meaning from the text to verify the identity of a decoded word. To clarify the omission of decoding-comprehension effects. but on the present assumption this correlation reflects a causal connection from decoding to comprehension that is mediated by knowledge of word meanings. less obvious one. there is an interesting. 2007. Landi. 1985). research on comprehension has often ignored vocabulary to focus on other comprehension issues (e. word meanings are central to comprehension and word identification. 2005). Hulme. Meanwhile. comprehension strategies). Beyond the more obvious implications for individual differences. these causal effects depend on word meanings being produced by identification. inference making.

1989. Ehrlich.296 BRINGING READING RESEARCH TO LIFE The Lexical Quality Hypothesis Word Knowledge to Comprehension Many other factors Decoding. 1995). Vocabulary. We are learning.g. Lexical quality varies within the word-knowledge component and affects word identification and comprehension and is in turn modified by through both word identification (e. Naturally. Simple schematic of the flow of information from knowledge about word form and meaning to comprehension through word identification. 1988. My approach to reading has been fairly simple. Verbal efficiency theory is the ancestor of the DVC triangle and the LQH and captures some of the same ideas. over 25 years ago. knowledge of all the letters of a word.. Gathercole & Baddeley. along with my graduate students. 2000). and Comprehension 297 nections between the two. complete letter knowledge and complete phonemic knowledge with con- . Verbal efficiency implied that skilled reading was about efficient pro- FIGURE 15. The distinctive part of reading. form. This refinement produces representations that increase in precision. I need to emphasize that word-form knowledge is also critical in skilled reading. I came to conclude. The development of word reading skill depends on the refinement of word representations by adding spelling knowledge to spoken-word representations.g. Just as work on comprehension has sometimes ignored word meaning. however. Syntactic abilities? Getting meaning from sentences and paragraphs? Higher level language knowledge? Despite the inherent interest of these possibilities to a psycholinguist. Lexical Knowledge (form. the rapid retrieval of a word's phonology and meaning. for a framework that links this distinction to lexical quality in a memory-based approach to recognizing words. and this is central to understanding reading comprehension. automaticity—did not quite capture the importance of knowledge. memory. however. of suggesting that comprehension skill differences and knowledge differences (especially vocabulary) derive from differences in working memory resources (Daneman. that verbal efficiency's emphasis on general processes—decoding. I referred to as verbal efficiency theory (Perfetti. children both before and after the beginnings of literacy differ greatly in the numbers of words they know in both the sense of familiarity and specific semantic knowledge. considered where "the action" was in reading comprehension skill. 1985): Word identification. These observations on the role of word identification in reading were the core of a theory of comprehension skill that.. I became interested in reading comprehension as a language problem and. research on word reading skill has tended to ignore spelling. & Yuill. I came to reading from training as a psycholinguist.) Such word knowledge is not only instrumental to comprehension but also a signature for literacy. Somehow. phonological processes.2. in this commonsense view. retrieval. From this it follows that comprehension depends in part on successful word reading and that skill differences in comprehension can arise from skill differences in word reading. I thought the first step was to ask about word reading and the role it played in comprehension. The first places the triangle idea in a personal historical context. (See Reichle and Perfetti. Cognitive resource differences cannot. however." differences in knowledge of word spellings lead to differences in word reading processes (Andrews. Although here I focus on word meaning as pivotal. that even among "good readers. was a limiting factor in comprehension. is written-word identification: The singular recurring cognitive activity in reading is the identification of words and the retrieval of their meanings. explain the massive differences observable in exposure to language that builds the vocabulary children are likely to encounter in written texts (Hart & Risley. Seigneuric. grounded on the idea that reading is a process built on language. and redundancy. These characteristics allow word reading and meaning retrieval to be rapid and relatively automatic given a familiar printed word. 2008). self-teaching) and comprehension (e. 2003. acquiring word meanings). This was not an easy thing to acknowledge. meaning) V A « — Word Identification Skill Comprehension 1 Linguistic and Conceptual Systems THE DVC TRIANGLE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE READING EDUCATION FIELD It is useful to ground the DVC triangle in two contexts relevant to reading research. Oakhill.

Skill differences were often specific to reading. 1985. Beck's early work developing code-based reading instruction (Beck & McCaslin. except for issues of allotting instructional time. that arise well before children enter school (Hart & Risley. For example. at best. it is clear that this instruction. Decoding First. I believe this observation is correct as far as it goes. Vocabulary Decoding. this emphasis was already anticipated in Reading Ability (Perfetti. Nagy and Herman (1987) estimated that vocabulary might grow by 2. First are the massive individual differences that are present in vocabulary knowledge in school-age children. 118). Thus a 'name' without meaning and a meaning without a 'name' are both low quality" (Perfetti. especially differences across different socioeconomic classes. the result would be a noticeable 5% gain. flew against the wind of the whole-language movement. Thus. But where did differences in efficiency arise? Although differences in processing capacity provide a possible answer to this question. Her approach to decoding followed the foundational principles of alphabetic reading by directly teaching the correspondences between letters and phonemes. an increased attention to words. it did not seem plausible as the whole story. and they were subject to practice effects. little instruction actually occurred in schools (Scott. Although the lexical knowledge emphasis was an important refinement of the verbal efficiency hypothesis.25%). 1985). 2003).000 to 3. . If one could teach 100 words to a child who knows only 2. Instead. direct instruction might help children learn a tiny percentage of the massive English vocabulary needed for academic success. 1995). their differences.000 words (1.. it is remarkable that the whole of the triangle can be instantiated by the research career of Beck and her colleagues. This perspective on the problem led eventually to the LQH (Perfetti. as well as comprehension. because most word learning occurs incidentally through reading and spoken-language experience. and perhaps even their forms.298 BRINGING READING RESEARCH TO LIFE cessing mechanisms and that less-skilled reading was about these same mechanisms operating less efficiently. 2002) promotes high levels of verbal interaction around a taught word. The second context for the DVC is that it aligns well with the research of Isabel Beck. as developed by Isabel Beck and her colleagues. p.5%) or 8. Indeed. specific lexical representations. and Beck and colleagues' robust vocabulary instruction (Beck. it is not clear why one would want to dismiss the gains to vocabulary. the integration of phonemes so that the child would learn to map letter sequences to phonological words (m-a-t -» /maet/) rather than only to isolated phonemes (m -> /m/. a ->/ae/. Even at 4. although for a different reason.t->/t/). This quality must be retained long enough for subsequent processes to perform their work. inevitably strengthening the use of other words and the concepts underlying them. 1978) sits at the decoding corner of the triangle. The basic good sense of this program. People generally assumed that such instruction was of marginal value. For example. Beck's Making Sense of Phonics (2006) reestablished the value of decoding instruction for a more receptive practice community. Next.000 academically useful words (a possible estimate for a child entering first grade from a very low socioeconomic status [SES] background). which has several observations that emphasized knowledge rather than process. But it does not take into account some important additional considerations. Although it remains to be seen whether robust vocabulary instruction produces such gains.. Second is the potential for vocabulary "spread." Words related to the meaning of a new word can be used in connection with the new word. Part of this increased awareness depends on becoming interested in words and engaged in academic language production. I argued in that volume that the retrieval of a lexical representation is high in quality "to the extent that it contains both semantic and phonetic information sufficient to recover its memory location.000 (2. . I consider each point of the triangle in turn.Vocabulary. that is. McKeown & Kucan. includes the kinds of meaningful engagement with language that could promote them.000 words per year over grades 1-12. Its distinctive addition to this basic principle was a procedure to support blending. I concluded that the major source of reading ability is the knowledge a reader has about words. Knowledge plus practice that refines the knowledge and makes it more accessible leads to efficient processing. their meaning similarities. Although no one argued against the value of direct instruction of vocabulary. Perfetti & Hart. Direct instruction in decoding was not in vogue at the time that Beck developed a direct instruction program. and neither was direct instruction in vocabulary. 2001). with the return of good sense to the teaching of reading. the story is similar to the decoding story. 2007. as well as its careful optimizing aspects. jamieson. Third is the potential for enhancing a child's lexical awareness. & Asselin. and Comprehension 299 At the vocabulary corner of the triangle. Much later.

or summarizing stories. But comprehension is also about understanding sentences through the meanings of the words they contain—local processes as opposed to global processes.300 BRINGING READING RESEARCH TO LIFE Decoding. using sentence structure to form their meanings into semantic content (e. and learning new word meanings allows readers to comprehend texts that contain those words. although we do know how to help children learn word meanings. certainly a big issue in itself. Once we take into account the vocabulary-comprehension connection. at not one or two but THE COMPREHENSION-VOCABULARY LEG OF THE TRIANGLE As I noted earlier. because each corner represents complexity well beyond what I have implied here. encoding their meanings. the central strategy for reading comprehension is to answer the question of. the comprehension issue becomes one of general language comprehension.. as indicated through answering questions. McKeown. the comprehension issue shrinks a bit. CONCLUSION The DVC triangle reflects the interdependence of knowledge about word forms (decoding and word identification) and word meanings (vocabulary) and comprehension processes. Unlike decoding. monitoring for confusions) that only indirectly engage semantic content (McKeown. and colleagues some years ago in studies that exemplify this level of comprehension and. We are equally sure about the importance of vocabulary but less clear about how to ensure that it keeps up with demands of academic learning. Beck and McKeown (2006) developed Questioning the Author as a way of guiding teachers to support what they saw as the critical component of comprehension: attention to the meaning of the text. the higher level "Comprehension" covers a lot of territory in reading. We know how to support instruction in decoding so that children can acquire the foundation point of the reading triangle. and with reading practice. reading depends on a complex of acquired skills honed by effective reading experiences. Being able to identify words and use their meanings is a large part of the issue. Beck. vocabulary is the reflection of unequal opportunity. recalling. Comprehension of texts allows readers to add new word issues have tended to localize on a very broad part of it. McKeown. meanings to their vocabularies.. and integrating these meanings with "prior" knowledge and across sentences (Kintsch. is what Isabel Beck has done in this triangle. she and her colleagues have taken on the hard problems of instruction. the link between word meanings and local comprehension. 1988. Perfetti. in press). For several reasons. especially effective text reading. and McKeown (1982) instructed children in vocabulary and then inserted the newly learned words into sentences and measured the reading (sentence verification) times on the sentences. Comprehension would appear to be the biggest problem. I have found myself working on all the corners and legs of the triangle at one time or another and sometimes at the same time.g. The LQH formulates these dependencies in terms of the components of word knowledge and its consequences for comprehension.Vocabulary. Beck. to support knowledge of word forms and meanings. and Comprehension 301 Comprehension lary training. it is an even bigger problem to tackle. I was able to join Beck. which is the great equalizer for unequal opportunity. Getting meaning from a text is about reading the words. making inferences. Beck. What does the text say? Other questions (including why questions) engage the reader with the content with the goal of supporting a text-based mental representation of the text. As in Beck's other work. Because the problems are specialized. On this view. This content-based strategy may be more effective than strategies that aim at a general level (e.g. & Blake. comprehension covers a large territory. Beyond experimental research. however. Experiences that yield comprehension and also strengthen knowledge of word forms and meanings essentially provide practice for reading skill. Research has contributed substantial knowledge that is of value for reading instruction. In this framework. and the practical comprehension ability to understand extended written tests. Children showed gains not only in word meaning measures but also on sentence verification when the sentences contained newly taught words. researchers typically have pursued one or other corners of the triangle—justifiably so. Omanson. more important. once beginning reading—decoding—has been mastered. 1985). Perfetti. Accordingly. and educational research in comprehension has attended more to the higher level part of this territory. and Perfetti (1983) later found comprehension gains for passages following vocabu- . this idea is a blend of common sense with research and theory. Truly impressive. but the research field has provided some useful guidance for comprehension instruction. propositions).

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die correlations between reading comprehension and spoken language comprehension increase and then level out by high school (Sticht & James. to its limiting or asymptotic level. 1984). Sticht & James. For adult college student samples. so it is these word-reading processes that limit comprehension.). we have to acknowledge some complexities about the concept of reading comprehension and what it means to develop it. then reading comprehension has developed. When that happens. Introduction: Simple Ideas about Reading Comprehension We can expect the comprehension of written language to approximate the comprehension of spoken language. 1984).) All other limitations are imposed by linguistic abilities. and general intelligence. Oxford: Blackwell. AA. As children learn to read words. This is because at the beginning. .In 2005. and Jane Oakhill How do people acquire skill at comprehending what they read? That is the simple question to which we shall try to make a tentative answer. we push onto the concept of reading comprehension all these other important aspects of cognition. To begin. 1980. for practical purposes. the limiting factor in reading comprehension shifts from word recognition to spoken language comprehension. Hulme (Eds. relevant knowledge. This simple idea that the acquisition of reading comprehension is learning to understand writing as well as one understands spoken language has empirical justification. J. However. with the muddle that results from conceptual conflation. 13 The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill Charles A. The science of reading: A handbook. (It is possible for reading comprehension skill to develop so as to exceed listening comprehension skill. Perfetti. Snowling & C. If we make things more complex than this. but that is another matter. At the beginning of learning to read. the correlations between reading and spoken language comprehension are small (Curtis. Nicole landi. children are learning to decode and identify words. as children move beyond the beginnings of learning to read.

we take note of a more interesting possibility. What is the proper rate for a comparison with reading? The listener's preference? The speaker's preference? A rate equal to the reading rate? Finally. 1983) is a representation of what the text is about. current volume. semantic. we will not discuss them further. to produce a mental model of the text. If so. Questions of cognitive architecture emerge in any attempt to arrange these processes into a framework for comprehension. Thus. 1977). For example. complex. A Framework for Comprehension Comprehension occurs as the reader builds a mental representation of a text message. If this were the end of the story. this would boost the correlation of listening and reading comprehension in adulthood. referential mapping. the assumption that reading comprehension is the joint product of printed word identification and listening comprehension. Instead.) This situation model (Van Dijk & Kintsch. and a variety of inference processes all contribute.. Across these levels. namely that literacy may alter the way people process spoken language (Olson.1 represents this framework schematically. we assume a general framework that exposes the processes of comprehension without making strong assumptions about constraints on their interactions. However. there is probably more to the story. and contentious. Nicole Landi. . see Kintsch & Rawson. But for most people. parsing. or with varying degrees of constraint. and pragmatic dimensions of language. Second. The comprehension processes that bring about this representation occur at multiple levels across units of language: word level. These issues of cognitive architecture are important. Studies that compare reading comprehension with listening comprehension avoid the confounding of materials. what they usually hear is different in content and style from what they read. we also must assume that learning to read with comprehension brings enough additional complexities to justify a chapter on how that happens. 1990).228 Charles A. one must make a decision about die speech rate in such comparisons. what is necessary for experimental control is problematic for authenticity.90 (Gernsbacher. Perfetti. However. making a clean comparison between the same or equivalent passages with only the "modality" (speech or writing) different. (For a review of current ideas about reading comprehension in adults. processes of word identification. These differences extend through formal. First are some methodological considerations. and Jane Oakhill the correlation between scores on reading comprehension and listening comprehension tests reaches r. (lexical processes). an idea famously asserted by Gough and Tunmer (1986) as a simple view of reading. interacting with the reader's conceptual knowledge. sentence level (syntactic processes). The various knowledge sources can interact freely. Figure 13. We accept. approximately and in an idealized form. and text level. then the study of reading comprehension would fold completely into the study of language comprehension. computing simple syntactic representations (parsing) probably is more independent of nonlinguistic knowledge than is generating inferences.

we avoid dwelling on word identification. and provide inferential integration of sentence information into more complete representations of extended text. Within Figure 13. Both . Although in a chapter on comprehension. However. All other processes apply to spoken as well as written language. Adapted from Perfetti (1999). Children must come to readily identify words and encode their relevant meaning into the mental representation that they are constructing. Morphology 1 Lexicon Meaning Morphology Sntax Word Representaion Word Identification Orthography Mapping to phonology £ Visual Input Figure 13. as opposed to language comprehension in general. These processes provide contextually appropriate word meanings. then the unique development concerns printed words.1 are two major classes of processing events: (1) the identification of words. acquiring skill in reading comprehension may include developments in all these components. Within this framework. parse word strings into constituents. if we focus on reading. we cannot ignore it completely. but are critically enhanced by other knowledge sources.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 229 Comprehension Processes Situation General Knowledge Model Text Representation Parser Meaning and Form Selection Linguistic System Phonology. Comprehension cannot be successful without the identification of words and the retrieval of their meanings. and (2) the engagement of language processing mechanisms that assemble these words into messages.1 The components of reading comprehension from identifying words to comprehending texts. These representations are not the result of exclusively linguistic processes. Syntax.

and Jane Oakhill children and adults with low levels of comprehension may also have problems with lexical representations. Higher-Level Factors in Comprehension Among the components of the comprehension framework are three that we highlight in this section: sensitivity to story structure. Johnson-Laird. & Bower.230 Charles A. the assessment of comprehension is a global one. but about time (Zwaan & Radvansky. Research has clearly shown that readers are very sensitive to the temporal dimension of narratives (Zwaan. More typical are texts that are organized. as expressed in a clause. 1983). not around space. With this framework of skilled comprehension. Kruley. a point to which we shall return later. Perfetti. (For a rare example of an assessment based on the differentiation of comprehension components see Hannon and Daneman. Haenggi. 1998). The reader's mental model can be considered an extended set of propositions that includes inferences as well as propositions extracted from actual text sentences. 1987). based on the meanings of words and the relations between diem (predicates and modifiers). which have been proposed as important sources of comprehension development and comprehension problems.) We first consider those processes that go beyond understanding the literal meaning of clauses and sentences. In most research. and comprehension monitoring. First we address die sentence and text-level processes that are the defining features of comprehension. A mental model also may represent text information in an integrated nonpropositional format (Garnham. What accounts for comprehension failure? Are the difficulties in comprehension localized in the processes of inference that are needed for the situation model? Or in the processes of meaning extraction that are required to represent the propositions of die text? To address these questions. aggregated through the reading of other sentences of the text and supplemented by inferences necessary to make the text coherent. inference making. We begin with the last two. we examine studies that compare readers who differ in comprehension skill. Morrow. sometimes oral) of very short texts. We begin with processes commonly viewed as critical to producing higher-level comprehension. 1996). 1981. Greenspan. The bare bones of the text — its literal meaning or "text base" — consist of propositions (nouns and predicates or modifiers) derived from sentences. Kintsch. we can ask about the acquisition of comprehension skill and differences in comprehension skill. Nicole Landi. They are largely linguistic. &: Langston. . based on readers' answers to questions following the reading (usually silent. & Gernsbacher. preserving both stated and inferable spatial information in the form of spatial analogues (Glenberg. Propositions and mental models The atoms of meaning are extracted from sentences. 1995. 2001. 1994.

all comparisons. text connecting or gap-filling. Inferences as causal in comprehension skill In trying to determine the causal status of inference ability in comprehension development. An alternative is to match the children not on chronological age but on "comprehension age". Nicole Landi. and Jane Oakhill (Perfetti. These comprehension age matched (CAM) designs allow some of the causal possibilities to be ruled out. one younger and one older.or comprehension-matched. as measured by the comprehension score of the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability (Neale. The comparisons then are between a group of younger children who have attained the same level of comprehension as a group of older children. by elimination. whereas the younger group will be average in comprehension relative to their age. and thus they inherit the limitations of correlational designs for making direct causal conclusions. 1997). (2) Less-skilled comprehenders do not know when. & Foltz. The older two groups were matched on word reading ability according to the Neale accuracy score. between a 10-year-old highly-skilled comprehender and a 10-year-old less-skilled comprehender could have arisen because of their differences in comprehension skill or amount of reading. a causal link between inference making and comprehension skill becomes more likely. that is. the reader needed to make a referential link between noun phrases in successive sentences. They compared two groups. Thus. Thus. about one year lower than that of the older skilled and less-skilled comprehenders. whether age. Marron. rest on the association of differences. A methodological digression. The older group will be low in comprehension skill relative to their age. If the younger children are better at inferences than the older children. Yuill and Oakhill (1991) proposed three possibilities to explain inference-making differences between skilled and less-skilled comprehenders: (1) General knowledge deficits restrict less-skilled comprehenders' inference making. matched on comprehension (CAM) and one group of age-matched skilled comprehenders. whereas the younger CAM group had reading accuracy commensurate with their chronological age. because the groups have the same absolute level of comprehension skill. there is a pervasive experimental design issue to consider: how to define comparison groups in relation to relative skill and age. which hamper their ability to make inferences and integrate text information with prior knowledge. In a text-connecting inference. But any differences in inference making. less-skilled comprehenders of age 7—8 were compared with both more skilled comprehenders of the same age and with a younger comprehension matched (CAM) group of age 6. One can sample within an age or grade level and compare the more skilled with the less skilled on measures that tap processes hypothesized to produce the differences in comprehension. it is appropriate to draw inferences. In sorting through various causal possibilities. for example. . 1996). (3) Less-skilled comprehenders have processing limitations. on their assessed level of comprehension. Cain and Oakhill (1999) used the comprehension-match design described above. Perfetti.232 Charles A. this cannot be attributed to a superior comprehension of the younger group. The three groups read passages and were asked questions that required one of two types of inferences. However.

including such facts as "The bears on Gan have blue fur" and "The ponds on Gan are filled with orange juice. and Bryant (2001) further examined this knowledge question by creating the relevant knowledge. This suggests that the causal relation between inference making and comprehension could be partly mediated by the reader's standard for coherence. Even when knowledge was controlled in this way. On the logic of age-match and comprehension-match comparisons. make inferences.. a standard for coherence broadly determines the extent to which a reader will read for understanding. but their performance on the gap-filling inference questions remained poor. Correct responses required children to integrate information from the knowledge base with premises from the story.e. and . working memory) that are required to juggle the demands of reading. A corollary of this hypothesis is that a low standard for text coherence is a general characteristic of low skill comprehenders. rather than some deficit in the ability to make an inference. less-skilled comprehenders told stories that had local coherence. The retrieval of relevant knowledge. for example. the children heard a multi-episode story situated on the imaginary planet. but which lacked any overall main point. their conclusion was that comprehension skill is not a cause (it could be a consequence) of text-integration skill (as measured by the ability to make text-connecting inferences). The orange juice was very refreshing. then attending to the text could help. and were asked both literal and inferential questions about the story. Because skilled comprehenders were better than both the age-matched less-skilled and CAM groups at making such inferences. They ruled out the availability of the knowledge because a posttest showed equivalent relevant knowledge across the groups. As a working hypothesis. Children were taught an entirely new knowledge base about an imaginary planet ("Gan"). the skilled comprehenders were still able to correctly answer more inference questions than were the less-skilled comprehenders. Inferring that the children were at the beach would be a gap-filling inference. Oakhill. Cain. perhaps focusing on reading individual words rather than striving for coherence. Inferring that Michael took orange juice out of his bag is a text-connecting inference. Cain and Oakhill (1999) proposed that the less-skilled and CAM readers performed more poorly on the gap-filling questions because they failed to know when to use relevant knowledge during reading." Once the knowledge base had been learned to criterion (perfect recall). they required an inference about the setting of a story. One text referred to two children playing in the sand and swimming. The gap-filling inferences had a more global scope.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 233 for example Michael took the drink out of his bag. When Cain and Oakhill (1999) told children exactly where to look in the text for the relevant information. and monitor his or her comprehension. the retention of text information needed for the inference. Barnes. Cain and Oakhill (1996) found that when children were prompted to tell a story. Consistent with this possibility. the causal connection between gap-filling inferences and comprehension was not clarified by the study. Not ruled out in either of the above studies are differences in the processing resources (i. their performance on the text-connecting inference questions improved. Cain and Oakhill found that skilled readers and CAM readers were better than less-skilled readers at making text-connecting inferences. If the problems in inference making arise from a poor representation of the text itself. The authors concluded that less-skilled readers may have different goals when reading text.

Again the question is why not? This question has not been answered conclusively. its literal meaning. (1996) argued that before one can conclude that inference making is a cause of poor comprehension. Perfetti et al. they further found that performance on both text-connecting and gap filling inferences predicted comprehension ability even when the ability to answer literal questions (and vocabulary and word reading ability) were controlled. asking for the names of the characters which were explicitly given). an apparent inconsistency) as a signal for rereading and repair. the Cain and Oakhill (1999) study addresses a vexing problem for conclusions about the causal status of inference making. and Jane Oakhill the building of the inference itself all compete with each other and with other processes (word identification and meaning retrieval). 2003a. it is unlikely to be the whole story. the production of inferences can feed back to literal propositions and strengthen their memory representation. Cain. vocabulary. although working memory is likely to contribute to comprehension-related skills like inference making. On theoretical grounds. assurance is needed that the pool comprehender has an effective representation of the basic text meaning (i. verbal IQ. Verbal working memory tasks in fact correlate with both inference tasks and general comprehension measures (Oakhill. Cain and Oakhill (1999) addressed this problem by measuring responses to questions about literal content (e. 1988). when we look beyond the correlations. 1984. Finally.e. Garner.. the more direct link from a given inference to the text supporting that inference has not been established. & Bryant. We ought to be surprised to find no differences at all between the literal memory of children who are making inferences and those who are not. Comprehension monitoring Readers who strive for coherence in their representation of a text must be able to monitor their comprehension. however. we think the complete separation of inferences from the literal meaning of a text is difficult. a study by Hacker (1997) examined compre- . and found no significant differences (less-skilled readers did show nonsignificantly lower scores). Oakhill et al. In the Construction-Integration processing model of comprehension (Kintsch. Perfetti. 1986). However. working memory is not the critical factor in comprehension. and word reading accuracy. Less-skilled readers may not engage this monitoring process (Baker..g. Indeed. they do not verify the assumption that literal text elements are available to the reader when the inference is to be made.234 Charles A. Cain and Oakhill (1999) showed that literal memory does predict global comprehension. but some hints are provided by the many studies on monitoring. or at least not the only one. 1980). As far as we know. although studies have assessed answers to literal questions after reading. Monitoring allows the reader to verify his or her understanding and to make repairs where this understanding is not sensible. Oakhill & Yuill. Nicole Landi. So.) An impoverished representation of the word and clause meanings will make inferences difficult. Notice that these results clarify the unique role of inferences in global assessments of comprehension that follow reading. Skilled readers can use the detection of a comprehension breakdown (e. However. For example.. (2003a) showed at each of two time points in the study (when the children were age 7—8 and 8—9) that inference and text integration skills were predictive of comprehension skill over and above the contribution of working memory.g.

with students asked to focus on meaning or on form (spelling and grammar). The developmental pattern was increased detection of all categories of text errors with age and. This makes it difficult to attribute comprehension problems uniquely to a general failure to monitor comprehension. both contributes to and results from the reader's text representation. when they controlled the familiarity of the critical information. the least skilled group of readers failed to improve as much as the more skilled groups. and spelling errors. and fifth-grade readers' detection of text inconsistencies compared with their detection of false sentences that contradict facts that the child could know from memory. like inference making. and eleventh-grade students (mean ages 12 to 16 respectively). not all the problems can be due to a "monitoring deficit. as in the case of inference making. ninth-grade. A simple explanation is difficult because comprehension monitoring. Vosniadou. It is important to note that observed differences in monitoring comprehension are not independent of the reader's ability to construct an accurate representation of the sentences in the text (Otero & Kintsch. reinforces the important point that retrieving relevant knowledge during reading is essential for monitoring. The familiarity of the critical information proved to be important for whether the child could detect an inconsistency. Finally. while not surprising. When students were given an additional chance to find the errors with an examiner pointing to the line containing an error. This certainly suggests that relevant knowledge is not always used in monitoring and that there are knowledge and basic processing differences that limit monitoring among some low-skilled readers. eleventh-grade low-skill readers were no better than ninth-grade low-skill readers and not as good as seventh-grade skilled readers. 1992. 1988). The cause of this monitoring problem evades easy explanation. Texts contained three types of detectable problems: contradictory sentences (semantic). performance improved. the standard- . a failure to monitor the coherence of the text with respect either to its internal consistency or the readers' knowledge of the world." Again. drawing attention to meaning improves comprehension monitoring. Thus. This result. with reading skill. More interesting were the results of an attention manipulation. a failure to activate relevant knowledge at the critical moment. In the study by Hacker (1997). & Rogers. Pearson. Thus. either in the text or in memory. Directing attention to meaning was effective for improved monitoring of meaning errors (with no reduction in detecting form errors) but only for above-average readers. reading with a certain coherence standard is necessary for monitoring to be engaged.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 235 hension monitoring in seventh-grade. Vosniadou et al. (1988) studied first-. For low-skilled readers. (1988) found that children were as good at detecting inconsistencies based on two contradictory text sentences as they were at detecting the contradiction of a single sentence with a familiar fact. verb agreement). However. for a skilled reader. Any observed problem can result from an incomplete representation of sentence meaning. This finding suggests that at least some problems in monitoring can be characterized as a failure to encode the meaning of a sentence in a way that promotes its comparison with other information. instructional focus appeared not to matter. based either on memory or the text. within age. However. with three levels of reading ability within each grade-level. various formal writing errors classified as "syntactic" errors (capitalization. Vosniadou et al. third-. Low reading comprehension appears to be associated with low monitoring performance at all age levels.

and Jane Oakhill of-coherence hypothesis may be relevant: Comprehension monitoring failures may result from a low standard for coherence. descriptive. Among the many text genre possibilities. comprehension-age match group had the same absolute level of comprehension skill. more than 80% of skilled comprehenders could give examples of the information contained in a story title. What is interesting about this development is its earliness. The developmental research on this topic has focused on the understanding of story structure (e. 1979). Less-skilled comprehenders have been found to have weakness in other aspects of text structure understanding. Nicole Landi. Some of the .) Rather. (Again. Reading comprehension skill is also related to children's knowledge about particular story features: notably titles. on the logic of comprehension match. Campione. although the application of narrative understanding to written texts can undergo further development with reading experience. their linguistic styles. Their poorer performance relative to the comprehension-age match group indicates that the ability to produce well-structuted stories is not simply a by-product of having a certain level of comprehension skill.236 Charles A. & Brown. beginnings and endings. when they were required to narrate a story from a picture sequence. Stein & Glenn. Stein and Albro (1997) argue that story understanding depends on knowledge about the intentions that motivate human action. only about 25% of a same-age group of less-skilled comprehenders were able to do so (Cain. an ability to produce a well-structured story is more likely to be associated with the causes of comprehension development. 1996). etc. Differences in this sensitivity to text coherence could lead to differences in comprehension. whereas. Beyond the conceptual bases for narrative. Smiley. however. A standard for coherence that extends to both production and comprehension is another possibility.. In one study. and the various layouts of texts all can present novel problems that are solved only by experience in reading. The less-skilled comprehenders also had difficulties in using linguistic elements to make their stories well structured and integrated. 1977. such as "Pirates. Oakley. we would not expect that story structure "deficits" would limit comprehension skill. Indeed.). and we focus here on this specific text type. a study by Yuill and Oakhill (1991) demonstrated that. and conclude that this knowledge is typically acquired by age 3." The less-skilled comprehenders produced more poorly structured stories than either of the other two groups. the less-skilled comprehenders produced fewer causal connectives and made more ambiguous use of referential ties than did skilled comprehenders. to tell stories prompted by a title. this is because the poor comprehenders and the younger. If so. Sensitivity to story structure The genre of texts (narrative. A sensitivity to story structure is one possibility for a cause of this development.g. Worthen. the simple story of the sort encountered by children in schools has attracted the most attention. is the understanding that the text itself honors the narrative structure through coherence devices. Cain and Oakhill (1996) required groups of skilled and less-skilled comprehenders. such as "it tells you what it's about and who's in it". together with a comprehension-age match group. Perfetti.

& Zurif. The derivation of propositional meaning requires knowledge about syntactic forms and the meanings of words. cultivated in a natural social environment. 1988). they must have at least some implicit awareness of the use of such features. children as young as three years can understand restrictive relative clauses such as "A cat is holding hands with a man that is holding hands with a woman. Syntactic processing Since the defining arguments by Chomsky (1965) and early research on the development of language (e. Crain and Shankweiler (1988) concluded that even less-skilled readers have the necessary syntactic abilities to comprehend the relatively complex sentences they used in their studies." . Reading would naturally use this same grammatical knowledge. The question is whether such problems arise from a syntactic knowledge deficit or from some other source that affects performance on syntactic tasks (such as working memory. Research with children (Crain & Shankweiler. 1994) suggests that syntactic parsing problems can arise from processing limitations rather than a lack of syntactic knowledge. 1981. Stein. The Linguistic-Conceptual Machinery for Comprehension Below the higher-level aspects of comprehension are the processes that convert sentences into basic semantic content. and. McNeill. emerging from biological dispositions through the niters of a local linguistic environment well before entry to school. because they benefit from integrated and goal-directed titles in both comprehension and production tasks (Cain & Oakhill. However. For example. the simple story is compromised.. & Just. although less-skilled comprehenders are poor at explaining the function of a variety of text features. The question becomes empirical: Are the child's syntactic abilities. Miyake. Satz. Competence in the grammar of one's native language is acquired naturally. less-skilled comprehenders appear to have less explicit awareness of the features of stories that might help scaffold their mental representation of the text. However. Comprehension difficulties may be localized at points of high processing demands. 1996. the implicit assumption seems to have been that syntax should not be an issue for the development of reading.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 237 less-skilled readers claimed that the title of a story provides no useful information at all. 1988) and adults (Carpenter. enough to meet the challenges of the more formal and more complex syntax that is present in written texts? We should expect that language skill differences lead to individual differences in comprehension. whether from syntax or other sources. Yuill & Joscelyne. their propositional meaning. Thus. 1974). Less-skilled comprehenders were also less aware that the beginnings of stories might provide useful information about the story setting and characters. younger less-skilled readers show a wide range of problems with syntax and morphology (Fletcher. & Scholes.g. once differences in syntax between typical spoken forms and typical written forms are acknowledged (O'Donnell. 1970). lack of practice. or lexical processing limitations). in fact. 1984). Cairns.

Perfetti. and Jane Oakhill Thus. 1988. Nevertheless. 2000). Phonological working memory has a direct link to reading through the need to keep active the contents of a sentence until the end of a clause or sentence. 1985) or difficulty processing phonological material (Bar-Shalom. with verbal ability and vocabulary controlled. its role may be genuine. 1976). Accordingly. 1980. when they are observed. Perfetti. 1976. the conclusion that all syntactic difficulties originate as working memory limitations is too strong. 1992). free of other factors. Perfetti & Goldman.g. In a study of 7-9-year-olds. 1977). a picture-sentence matching test. This interdependence of spoken and written language comprehension is important in the analysis of reading . Logie.) However. reflecting variability in the development of functional language skills. the use of nominalizations. Working memory systems Understanding a sentence involves remembering words within the sentence. Seigneuric. 1979). the evidence shows it is an active working memory system rather than a passive short-term memory store that is important in reading comprehension skill (Daneman & Carpenter. The hypothesis that working memory factors are correlated with individual differences in comprehension has received wide support (Baddeley. also used by Stothard and Hulme. children who are less skilled in reading comprehension show poorer memory for words they recently heard from spoken discourse (Perfetti & Goldman. A phonological memory system directly affects the comprehension of spoken language. gaining experience with syntactic structures that are less common in spoken than written language. Differences in syntactic processing can be observed in the absence of obvious phonological problems (Stothard & Hulme. including one that is specialized for holding and manipulating phonological information (Baddeley. Although a more precise role for syntactic abilities. 1993). (2003a) found significant relations between global comprehension skill and a measure of syntactic ability (the TROG. Working memory — one or more systems of limited capacity that both store and manipulate information . & Nimmo-Smith. and other processes that require resources. difficulties with syntax. syntactic ability was significant at only the second of two test points. Crain. and working memory. Just & Carpenter. retrieving information from preceding text. The "elsewhere" has been assigned to verbal working memory ability (Crain & Shankweiler. parsing the sentence. & Shankweiler.. Perfetti & Lesgold. 1992). Nicole Landi. with the real problem lying elsewhere. Experience with a variety of syntactic structures should increase functional expertise in syntax and reduce the demands of complex structures on working memory.238 Charles A. In fact. Ehrlich. e. remains to be worked out. Different subsystems of working memory have been postulated. Oakhill. 1992. 1988. when integrative processes complete their work and make a verbatim memory less important. clausal noun phrases. 1985. Crain & Shankweiler. there have been few thorough studies of the broader question of the syntactic abilities of less-skilled comprehenders. (Relations were also found for text integration. Finally. may be in masquerade. is something that benefits from successful reading. and other more complex a bottleneck for these processes. & Yuiil. Oakhill et al. comprehension monitoring. In addition.

Indeed. reading comprehension. word identification. the effective experience is reading itself (with a high standard for coherence) so as to support the fluent processing that effectively stretches working memory.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 239 comprehension problems. Phonological memory showed a similar indirect causal link to reading comprehension. The assumption of a limited capacity working memory system has been central in theories of cognition generally. phonological memory. Bowyer-Crane. . Stothard & Hulme. A causal path from early phonological knowledge through word identification to later reading comprehension is one possibility. phonological knowledge prior to literacy could play a role in the development of reading comprehension by either or both of two pathways. In the absence of specifically phonological problems. mediated by listening comprehension. As we suggest below. Whether phonological memory is the critical cause of differences in both spoken and written language comprehension is another matter. Crain and Shankweiler (1988) argued that differences in working memory capacity arise from difficulties in phonological processing. Niemi. Another possibility is a pathway from phonological processing to listening comprehension to reading comprehension. The results suggest that the ability to hold and manipulate phonemes in memory may explain the relation between phonemic awareness and reading. and spoken and written comprehension. both causal pathways could be involved. In the case of reading. the basic language processing mechanisms. Ericsson & Delaney. but rather its correlations with comprehension reflect limitations in phonological processing. An additional implicit assumption is that this system is more or less fixed biologically. 1999. Structural equation modeling showed an indirect causal link from preschool phonological memory to word recognition development between first and second grade. and Voeten (2001). & Snowling. These weaknesses will often be manifest specifically in phonology but they can also be reflected in other aspects of language processing. Adams. in a longitudinal study from preschool through second grade. However. working memory capacity is not at the heart of comprehension problems. 1999. may affect performance in working memory tasks. Because word identification and listening comprehension are primary determinants of reading comprehension. Indeed. Of course. they suggest that phonological memory supports listening comprehension and thus. Ericsson & Kintsch. which include more than phonological representations. Effective experiences in a domain strengthen the functionality of memory resources in that domain. which was mediated by phonological awareness." we move toward a perspective that views the role of effective experience as critical in the development of comprehension skill. 1978. working memory differences are still observed and can be traced to other language processing weaknesses (Nation. 1995). indirectly. The general conclusion appears to be that working memory differences related to reading skill are fairly specific to language processing. 1992). Moreover. On either description. If we see working memory as partly fixed and partly "expandable. Dufva. alternative perspectives on working memory suppose that its limitations are not completely fixed but at least partly influenced by knowledge and experience (Chi. the even more general conclusion is that language processing weaknesses are at the core of reading comprehension problems. used assessments of phonological awareness. Phonological memory processes may affect reading comprehension by an additional pathway through the development of word identification.

then vocabulary growth results from comprehension skill. based on several earlier estimates of vocabulary growth. making matches based on vocabulary levels. This neglect arises not from any assumption that vocabulary is unimportant. children's knowledge of word meanings grows dramatically. of course. Differences in word knowledge emerge well before schooling. a first-grade reader with high vocabulary knowledge knows twice as many words as a first-grade reader with low knowledge. the causal relationship is likely to be reciprocal. Perfetti.000 words over grades 1—12. According to one estimate. Of course. 1941). everyone accepts that knowledge of word meanings and comprehension skill are related. or whatever component of comprehension was the target of interest. This process. Sorting out causality is again difficult. 1988). Nagy and Herman (1987). & Omanson. it is correlated with working memory (Daneman & Green. the more one reads. Note also that inferring the meanings of unknown words from the text is possible only if most words are understood and if some approximation to text meaning is achieved.240 Charles A. they need to infer the meanings of unknown words from texts. To the extent that word meanings are inferred from context. 2000). and we might expect research designs to follow the lead of the comprehension-match design. For some purposes. Word meanings are instrumental in comprehension on logical as well as theoretical grounds. Because readers do not know the meanings of all words they encounter. Large social class differences in the vocabulary heard by children at home produce corresponding differences . One estimate is that a reader must know at least 90% of the words in a text in order to comprehend it (Nagy & Scott. The nature of this representation would depend on all sorts of other factors. but from theoretical interests in other aspects of the comprehension problem. including inference making. and this difference may actually double by the twelfth grade (Smith. 1987. The gap between the number of words known by the high-knowledge and low-knowledge children is correspondingly large. 1987). requires comprehension and like other aspects of comprehension. The possible causal relations underlying their relationship include several plausible possibilities (Anderson & Freebody. it does not matter whether the causal history is from vocabulary-to-comprehension or comprehension-to-vocabulary. Nicole Landi. 1981. We know very little about the kind of text representation that results when words are not understood. Somehow. Indeed. working memory. Beck. Not knowing the meanings of words in a text is a bottleneck in comprehension. from the role of an unknown word in the structure of the text message to the reader's tolerance for gaps in comprehension. so that experimental designs could focus on inferences. monitoring. as it applies in the context of this particular text. the more comprehension brings along increases in the knowledge of word meanings. is critical. Curtis. This correlation might reflect working memory's role in learning the meanings of words from context (Daneman. McKeown. and Jane Oakhill Building conceptual understanding from words Vocabulary has been a slightiy neglected partner in accounts of reading comprehension. his or her ability to access the meaning of the word. But at the moment a reader encounters a text. Nevertheless. computed the per-year growth of vocabulary at 3. The research strategies have either assumed or verified that relevant vocabulary knowledge is equal between a group of skilled and less-skilled comprehenders. 1986).

(See also Nation. These differences are not about only the conventional meanings of words. 1985). knowledge of word meanings may play a role in both the identification of words (at least in an orthography that is not transparent) and in comprehension. whereas for less-skilled comprehenders. Children with weak decoding skills may develop a dependency on more semantically based procedures (Snowling. Thus. Less-skilled comprehenders were also slower to generate semantic category members (but not rhymes) than skilled comprehenders. 1995a). (Notice that figure 13. Beyond the general importance of word knowledge (and associated conceptual knowledge) are specific demonstrations that children less skilled in comprehension have problems with word knowledge and semantic processing. Theoretically. although not on a rhyme judgment task (Do ROSE and NOSE rhyme?). Nation and Snowling (1998a) compared children with specific comprehension difficulties with a group of skilled comprehenders matched for decoding ability. Hulme. is easier if the reader knows that Mexico is very hot in July and that some people might not want to have a vacation in high heat.) More interesting. & Goulandris. which needs to be understood as causal for an unstated action (they probably did not go to Mexico). This dual role of word meanings places lexical semantics in a pivotal position between word identification and comprehension.) This conclusion also accords with an observation on adult comprehenders reported in Perfetti and Hart (2002). is that these same less-skilled comprehenders showed a problem in reading low-frequency and exception words. Nation and Snowling observed a link between skill in specific word identification (not decoding) and comprehension that could be mediated by knowledge of word meanings. who reported a factor analysis based on various reading component assessments. For skilled comprehenders word identification contributed to both a word form factor (phonology and spelling) and a comprehension factor. They found that less-skilled comprehenders scored lower on a synonym judgment task (Do BOAT and SHIP mean the same thing?). This suggests that comprehension problems for some children are associated with reduced semantic knowledge (or less effective semantic processing) in the absence of obvious phonological problems. Consider this example (from Hart & Risley. then one might expect semantic variables that reflect the functioning of this system to make a difference. Knowledge of this sort is critical in its consequences for understanding even simple texts. concrete meanings are more readily activated than more abstract meanings. 1994). but her only vacation time was in July. 1995a): My wife and I wanted to go to Mexico. however. This dual role of word meanings in skilled reading also may account for previous observations that less-skilled comprehenders are slower in accessing words in semantic search tasks (Perfetti. . age and nonverbal ability on semantic and phonological tasks. but the background knowledge needed to interpret messages that contain these words. Interpreting the "but" clause. If less-skilled readers have a weak lexical semantic system. For example. this volume. In effect. such a link can reflect the role of word meanings in the identification of words that cannot be identified by reliable grapheme—phoneme correspondence rules.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 241 in the vocabularies of children as they enter school (Hart & Risley. word identification was associated with a phonological decoding factor but not with spelling or comprehension.1 reflects its pivotal position.

In a priming study. et al. and Jane Oakhill Nation.242 Charles A. 1991). In examining the role of working memory. establishing the orthography of the word as an accessible representation. 1985. and Phonological Awareness If word meanings are central to comprehension and important for identification of at least some words. Seidenberg. then we have come to an interesting conclusion: Despite trying to ignore word level processing in comprehension. 1975). Even phonological awareness. Instrumental in acquiring these word representations is a process identified by Share (Share. 1994). The child's development of high-quality word representations is one of the main ingredients of fluent reading (Perfetti. the association between reading comprehension and word identification persists. McClelland. comprehension becomes less limited by word identification and more influenced by other factors. 1996). The general association between word identification and reading comprehension skill has been well established for some time (Perfetti & Hogaboam. 1995. compared with skilled comprehenders. & Patterson. ordinarily considered only important for decoding. has been found to predict young readers' comprehension independently of working memory (Leather & Henry. What drives this development of orthographic access is the child's decoding attempts. we cannot. This association reflects the fact that word identification skill and comprehension skill develop in mutual support. Research at this more specific semantic level could help clarify the nature of the semantic obstacles to comprehension. However. This process allows children to move from a reading process entirely dependent on phonological coding of printed word forms to a process that accesses words quickly based on their orthography. (1999) found that an advantage for concrete words was more pronounced for less-skilled readers than skilled readers who were matched for nonword reading (decoding). 1999) as self-teaching. The word-level skill can be conceived as reflecting lexical quality (Perfetti & Hart. Decoding. we were forced to conclude that a link to comprehension could go from phonological processing through word identification to comprehension. Nation and Snowling (1999) found that less-skilled com-prehenders are more sensitive to associative strength among related words and less sensitive to abstract semantic relations. Word level processing is never the whole story in comprehension. which provide phonological feedback in the presence of a printed word. 1996). Such representations must be acquired in large part through reading itself. it is a baseline against which to assess the role of higher-level processes such as comprehension monitoring and inference making (Perfetti et al. Perfetti. Word Identification. . 2001). reflecting either a lingering limitation of word identification on comprehension or a history of reading experience that has strengthened both skills. As children develop word-reading skills. Models that simulate learning to read words can be said to implement this kind of mechanism (Plaut. Nicole Landi. which has its consequences in effective and efficient processing. knowledge of word forms and meanings. even for adult skilled readers. However.

grammatical knowledge. and 10—11 (Year 6). (2003a) by the addition of a third cohort of children and providing a longitudinal analysis of data from ages 7—8 (Year 3). The results of multiple regression were applied to a causal path diagram to show the pattern and strength of relations among the various skills across time. followed by all of the reading-related and language . From these analyses a picture of skill development emerges in which certain components of comprehension are predictive of general comprehension skill. Initial comprehension skill was a strong predictor of later comprehension. In a longitudinal study of children in school years 3 to 6. the pattern was quite different. Oakhill. Finally. A few such studies have begun to appear. With reading accuracy as the dependent variable. Snowling.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill Which components bring about growth in comprehension skill? 243 To this point. and understanding story structure (assessed by the ability to reconstruct a story from a set of jumbled sentences). working memory (both verbal and numerical span measures). either through direct or indirect links: answering inferential questions. Word identification skills. phonemic awareness (phoneme deletion). This pattern confirms the contributions to comprehension of diree factors we have reviewed in previous sections. and verbal ability (vocabulary and verbal IQ) also made significant contributions to the prediction of comprehension ability across time. Muter. 8—9 (Year 4). and measures of three comprehension related skills: inference making. (Verbal and performance IQand vocabulary were entered at the first step. and vocabulary assessed at age 5-6 each predicted unique variance in reading comprehension at the end of the second year of schooling. story structure understanding. In each age group. whether matched on relevant skills or age. Longitudinal studies that track the course of changes in comprehension skill can provide additional information about the causal relations among the components of comprehension. to assess growth in skill. comprehension monitoring and story-structure understanding (story anagram task). syntax (TROG). (2003b) calculated estimates of growth in reading comprehension and reading accuracy. with only significant paths included. and comprehension monitoring all predict a later global assessment of comprehension skill independendy of the contribution of earlier comprehension skill. These factors predicted comprehension at a later time even after the auto-regressive effect of comprehension (the prediction of comprehension at later times from comprehension at earlier times) was controlled. and Bryant (2003b) extended the study of Oakhill et al. vocabulary (British Picture Vocabulary Test). verbal and performance IQ (Time 1 only). including phonological and grammatical abilities and vocabulary knowledge. three distinct predictors of comprehension skill emerged. is shown in figure 13. Early abilities in inference skill. Oakhill et al. and Stevenson (2004) studied young children for two years from their entry into school. assessing a number of abilities. there were measures of reading comprehension and reading accuracy. monitoring comprehension (by detecting inconsistencies in text). and used these estimates as dependent variables in two further sets of regression analyses. The significant predictors were previous measures of reading accuracy and a phoneme deletion measure taken at Time 1. we have examined the acquisition of reading skill largely through studies comparing skilled and less-skilled readers. Nevertheless.2. and thus about the course of development. The final causal path diagram. Hulme. Cain.

studies that carry out comparable assessments. and Jane Oakhill Comprehension Tl Comprehension T3 Verbal IQ TV BPVS Tl Story anagram Tl Monitoring Tl Monitoring T2 Figure 13. Paths mat linked Time 1 and Time 2 variables but not Time 3 comprehension have been excluded for clarity. Perfetti. including tests of comprehension at more than one time point. and integrative inferences (INFER). as were knowledge of word meanings and grammatical knowledge. Because the original data were standardized. Muter et al. other variables made independent predictions. a sensitivity to story structure (Story Anagram). Hatcher. their study is not directly comparable with the study by Oakhill et al. had a comprehension assessment only at the final test point in their study. 1994) was important in predicting comprehension. ought to be instrumental in the growth of reading comprehension skill. Variables shown were significant predictors after the effects of all other variables were removed: a global comprehension measure (COMP). & Ellis. as one might expect for younger children. there is widespread concern about how to improve chil- . However. the coefficients shown are directly comparable. Accordingly. with the strength of their contribution depending upon the level of the child's skill. Because Muter et al. Nicole Landi. variables and working memory measures entered simultaneously.2 Path analysis based on data from longitudinal study by Oakhill. a picture vocabulary test (BPVS). Story structure understanding was the sole predictor of growth in reading comprehension. Cain. Comprehension Instruction A failure to develop a high level of comprehensions skill creates a severe obstacle to educational attainment. It is possible that all the factors identified in these two studies influence comprehension development. detection of text contradictions (MONITOR). (2003b). The study confirms that a set of higher-level comprehension components. verbal IQ (VIQ). Early Word Recognition Test. on theoretical grounds. may indeed be instrumental. Hulme. Word identification (Hatcher. Phonemic awareness was the sole predictor of growth in reading accuracy skill. (2004) report a slightly different pattern for their younger children. are needed to test this possibility.244 Charles A. Variables measured at Time 1 (age 7-8) predict variables at Time 2 (age 9—10) and Time 3 (age 11—12). and Bryant (2003b).) Although vocabulary and verbal IQ predicted growth in comprehension and reading accuracy. which.

which is illustrated as a highly schematic representation in figure 3.) but that improvement of scores on standardized comprehension tests may require training multiple strategies in combination. 2000). quality of summarization. the use of semantic organizers (students making graphic representations of text).3. This general model framework. speculative account of acquisition. which go hand in hand. drawing on a comprehensive review of research on reading (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD]. we briefly note the wide extent of such research. we add our own reservations. Instructional interventions may produce only short-term gains. question answering (teacher directed questions) and question generation (student self-questioning). To those. The procedures that the NICHD Report suggests are effective are consistent with the comprehensions skills we have reviewed in this chapter. It requires both wanting to read and gaining skill in reading. Two years after the intervention. The 205 studies that met the methodological criteria led the report to identify seven categories of comprehension instruction that appeared to have solid evidence for their effectiveness. These seven include procedures that we characterize as drawing the reader into a deeper engagement with the text . We think the complex interaction among the comprehension components and the role of motivation for reading make real gains difficult to achieve. The NICHD Report concludes that these procedures are effective in isolation in improving their specific target skills (sensitivity to story structures. we turn to a more general. With more research. Conclusion: A More General View of Comprehension Development We conclude by taking a step back from the details of how skill in comprehension is acquired. However. etc. Active engagement with the meaning of text helps the reader to represent the text content in a way that fosters both learning (as opposed to superficial and incomplete understanding) and an attraction to reading. Instruction in story structures was also judged to be effective. .in a phrase. augmented by a few earlier studies from the 1970s. the NICHD report adds some cautions to its conclusions on behalf of the instruction strategies it recommends. and student summarization of texts. is the child comprehending better? Answers to this kind of question appear to be lacking. The summary NICHD report refers to 453 studies between 1980 and the time of the review. based on different experimental tasks and resulting in a different arrangement of causal relations.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 245 dren's reading comprehension. Although we cannot review the research on instruction in comprehension here. Because a detailed model of skill acquisition seems premature. the kind of developmental picture we described in the preceding sections may be confirmed or alternative pictures will emerge. They include comprehension monitoring. active processing. can be realized by a number of specific models. Internalizing externally delivered procedures so that they become a habit — a basic attitude toward texts and learning — may be a long-term process.

However. with some component skills. Reading comprehension and listening comprehension are related throughout development. We assume the following: 1. The left—right arrows represent increases in skill across with experience and gains in knowledge. 2. Early in reading. of course. this does not mean that the two are "equal. with experience in each potentially affecting skill acquisition in the other. syntactic processing and inference making)." and substantial asymmetries can develop. . General skill in reading comprehension and its related components increase with reading experience.3 A schematic representation of the major components in the acquisition of reading comprehension skill. and Jane Oakhill Fi9lire 13. Their relation is reciprocal. Nicole Landi.. Reading comprehension has reciprocal relationships with both spoken language comprehension and lexical knowledge.246 Charles A.g. with spoken language experience. and. Perfetti. Not represented: general knowledge (which. also increases) and the specific processes of comprehension (e. Reading comprehension depends on spoken language comprehension throughout development. written word identification (not shown) is a limiting factor for reading comprehension.

The result of these influences is more reading and. is adopting the high-standard criterion as the "default. However. . When coherence is a goal. Unwanted reading and countless nontext distractions can promote this laxity. The first four assumptions comprise a basic analysis of what is necessary for comprehension. for example. however. especially. and grows indefinitely. 247 4. Knowledge of word meanings is central to comprehension. which was prepared while the first author was a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex. 5. This knowledge derives from multiple sources. For comprehension to develop to higher levels.that is. the reader must adopt a high standard of coherence — to care whether the text makes sense. Word identification skill sets a limit on how closely reading comprehension skill can approach listening comprehension skill. causal story. inconsistencies between text elements or between text elements and the reader's knowledge are resolved rather than ignored or not noticed. inferences are made to keep things coherent. It specifically limits comprehension early in reading development. Our review of research on higher-level comprehension processes emphasizes the need for this basic analysis to be taken into account . The goal. making inferences. Note The authors are grateful to Kate Cain for providing comments on a draft of this chapter. including written and spoken comprehension. we conclude also that the basic analysis provides the necessary. When coherence is a goal. This brings reciprocal supports into play. This surely aids reading comprehension. "controlled for" . Adopting a high coherence standard supports interest in the search for higher-level comprehension factors that are strategic. more effective reading." We think skilled readers do this. but not sufficient. which encourages a high standard of coherence.The Acquisition of Reading Comprehension Skill 3. monitoring comprehension. The first author's work on the chapter was supported by a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship and a comprehension research award from Institute for Educational Sciences (US Department of Education). Higher levels of comprehension require the reader to apply a high standard of coherence to his or her understanding of the text. All readers find themselves relaxing their standards for coherence occasionally.

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