Visual Information Processing in Reading

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Book Chapter

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The first half of the title of this book, Visual Processes in Reading, might seem redundant because reading is necessarily a visual act. However, reading is influenced by nonvisual information. Our concern is with visual processing, but nonvisual information (in many different forms) contributes to our perceptual experience of reading text. The goal of this chapter is to present a theoretical framework for visual information processing in reading and to sample relevant research. After presenting the model, we address the issue of what visual information is used in word identification. The results are consistent with the view that identification of a word depends on processing its component letters. Therefore, it is important to describe the visual information contributing to letter recognition. After considering letter recognition per se, we discuss a way of using visual information to increase the amount of orthographic and phonological information conveyed by letters. Then we return to the observed perceptual advantage for words and consider competing theoretical explanations. In particular, we focus on an account that emphasizes knowledge of spelling regularities (orthographic structure) and an account that utilizes specific words. We evaluate these accounts in terms of how they handle effects of processing time and other variables in word perception tasks. Finally, we close with consideration of effects of the discourse context on word recognition.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Visual Information Processing in Reading, in D.M. Willows, R.S. Kruk, E. Corcos, D.W. Massaro & T. Sanocki (Eds.), Visual Processes in Reading and Reading Disabilities, Routledge, p. 139-162