Visual Knowledge Underlying Letter Perception: Font-Specific, Schematic Tuning

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The representation of visual information about letters is proposed to be highly systematic. The system exploits regularities that are characteristic of letters and fonts by becoming tuned to the details of the font. This should result in efficient letter perception when the stimuli are regular, but not when the stimuli are irregular. The prediction of faster processing with a regular font, as compared with a mixed font, was examined in three experiments requiring the recognition of four-letter strings. Experiment 1 confirmed the prediction, and Experiment 2 replicated the effect with the number of "features" equated across conditions. Experiment 3 showed that the disadvantage for a mixture of fonts is related to how much the representational system must be adjusted to handle the different fonts.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v. 13, issue 2, p. 267-278