Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Elizabeth R. Schotter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dube, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Geoffrey Potts, Ph.D.


Eye Tracking, Reading, Phomology, Prediction


The current thesis investigates the role of sentence context and individual differences in the quality of sub-lexical representations of words in activation of phonological forms during silent reading. More specifically, this study aims to determine how these situational and participant-level factors influence the use of phonology to aid word recognition during parafoveal processing, before a reader directly fixates the word. Therefore, I manipulated sentence constraint in two eye tracking during reading experiments (one using real-word and one using pseudoword parafoveal previews) that utilized the gaze-contingent boundary paradigm (Rayner 1975) and measured individual’s scores on assessments of spelling ability, phonological decoding ability and semantic knowledge. Additionally, I performed follow-up exploratory analyses to investigate the role of lexical frequency in the interaction between sentence constraint and parafoveal processing of phonology. The results of these experiments suggest that the phonological preview benefit (PPB) is not strongly influenced by individual differences, but that the magnitude of the PPB appears to depend on stimulus characteristics, namely sentence constraint and lexical frequency. Additionally, a comparison of the effect sizes and pattern of significant results between the two experiments demonstrates that the PPB benefits from the preview having a holistic lexical representation in memory.