Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Mary Lou Morton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jacqueline Hinckley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jim King, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Richard Marshall, Ph.D.


syntax, semantics, ERP, N400, sentence structure, children, indexical hypothesis


The purpose of this study is to add to the knowledge of reading development by investigating reading processes from a neurocognitive and educational perspective. This study seeks to provide some insight about reading development for the neuroscience field. The goals of this study are to attain a clearer picture of reading development by using both behavioral assessments and event-related potentials (ERPs), and to begin to bridge the gap between both fields of study. Children between the ages of 7 and 13 were placed in one of two groups depending on their reading comprehension levels for the first analyses, and reading fluency levels for the second analyses. Children were asked to read active, active violation, passive and passive violation sentences, that had been manipulated to contain primed semantic context. Brain waves were recorded during the task. Repeated measures ANOVAS were used to analyze the mean N400 like amplitudes for the groups for the sentence ending target words. The lower fluency group had the largest amplitudes for all sentence types even though the sentences were two grade levels below their actual fluency levels; decoding and reading rate were not a problem for them in the reading task. Also, the lower fluency group processed the anomalous sentences very differently than the lower comprehension group whose average age was close to the same. Other N400 like amplitudes differences among the groups were observed. Implications for reading education consist of reintroducing the sentence processing exercises back into the classroom instruction in order to improve reading comprehension skills among fluent readers with comprehension problems.