Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Modulation of Regularity and Lexicality Effects in Reading Aloud

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Modulation of Regularity and Lexicality Effects in Reading Aloud

Article excerpt

We examined the question of whether the sizes of the regularity and lexicality effects in naming can be modulated as a function of filler type (nonwords or low-frequency exception words). The lexicality effect was larger in the exception word filler condition than in the nonword filler condition, but the size of the regularity effect was essentially unaffected by filler type. This pattern is at odds with what is generally assumed to be the predictions from dual-route theories of reading aloud. An attempt was next made to determine whether the dual-route cascaded model of Coltheart, Rastle, Perry, Langdon, and Ziegler (2001) could possibly simulate this pattern when changes were introduced to each of the three parameters that affect the contribution of the nonlexical route. We discuss the implications of these results for the idea that reliance on the lexical and nonlexical routes is under strategic control.

The basic premise of Coltheart and colleagues' (Coltheart, 1978; Coltheart, Curtis, Atkins, & Haller, 1993; Coltheart, Rastle, Perry, Langdon, & Ziegler, 2001 ; Paap & Noel, 1991) dual-route theory of reading aloud is that there are two ways of generating the pronunciation of a printed letter string. One is via a "lexical route" that involves the retrieval of the whole-word phonology stored in a phonological output lexicon (which is accessed via a connection from the orthographic input lexicon). The second is via a "nonlexical route" that computes phonology by means of application of letter-to-sound correspondence rules (i.e., rules that map graphemes onto phonemes). According to this theory, exception words, whose pronunciations do not follow these rules (e.g., pint, yacht), can be read aloud correctly only via the lexical route, whereas nonwords (e.g., slint), which are not represented in the orthographic input lexicon, can be read aloud correctly only via the nonlexical route.

Given this dual-route architecture, it seems plausible that readers could strategically shift the relative emphasis of the two routes in response to the nature of the stimulus list. In particular, because nonwords can only be named by the nonlexical route, when the stimulus list consists primarily of nonwords, the nonlexical route may receive maximal emphasis. In contrast, because exception words are named incorrectly by the nonlexical route, when the stimulus list consists primarily of exception words, the nonlexical route would receive minimal emphasis. Performance, in both cases, would be essentially determined by the characteristics of the route having the stronger emphasis.1

Although the ability to shift route emphasis is not a feature required by any dual-route model, it is a concept that has been investigated enthusiastically over the past 20 years within the framework of such models (Coltheart, 1978; Lupker, Brown, & Colombo, 1997; Monsell, Patterson, Graham, Hughes, & Milroy, 1992; Paap & Noel, 1991; Zevin & Balota, 2000). In this article, we are interested specifically in two expected manifestations of shifting route emphasis. There are two well-known effects in the reading aloud literature-the regularity and lexicality effects-both of which document the interaction between the two routes. These effects were examined under two different conditions, representing situations in which the relative emphasis on the two routes should vary considerably.

The regularity effect refers to the finding that exception words such as pint are read aloud more slowly than are regular words such as pink. The size of the regularity effect is modulated by word frequency, such that the effect is much larger when words are of low rather than high frequency (Brown, Lupker, & Colombo, 1994; Paap & Noel, 1991; Seidenberg, Waters, Barnes, & Tanenhaus, 1984). Within the dual-route theory, the regularity effect is explained in terms of a conflict between the pronunciation computed by the nonlexical route and that retrieved by the lexical route for the exception word-a conflict whose resolution takes time. …

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