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The influence of visualization of orthography on the recognition of written words. A recent study reviews the main research that has been conducted on the role of orthographic neighbourhood in visual word recognition. We focus here on the traditionally defined neighbourhood, that is corresponding to the set of words of the same length sharing all but one letter with the stimulus. Two major theoretical frameworks, namely the activation verification and the interactive activation models, assume that orthographic neighbours are activated when a written word is presented. Predictions formulated by both models for words and pseudowords on the effects of neighbourhood size (N), neighbourhood frequency (NF), and neighbourhood distribution (P), are examined in order to assess the plausibility of serial versus interactive processes. Findings from 27 empirical studies including more than 80 experiments suggest that neighbourhood effects depend on the neighbourhood indexes (N, NF, and P), on the particular tasks (lexical decision, naming, semantic categorization, perceptual identification, and reading), and on the languages (English, French, Spanish, and Dutch) that are used. The results for words can be summarized as follows: (1) In the lexical decision task, the N effect is facilitatory. The NF effect is rather inhibitory, particularly in French and Spanish experiments. The P effect is rather inhibitory in English studies, whereas the P effect for higher frequency neighbours is facilitatory in French. (2) In the perceptual identification task with a single identification response, N and NF effects are inhibitory whatever the language. (3) In the naming task, N and NF effects are facilitatory whatever the language. (4) In the semantic categorization task, an interaction effect between N and NF is found in both English and Spanish. (5) In eye movement studies, the NF effect is inhibitory in both English and French. The issue of lexical versus task-specific processes underlying neighbourhood effects in lexical identification tasks is also examined. On the whole, facilitatory N effects are usually attributed to nonlexical processes of the lexical decision task and of the naming task, whereas inhibitory neighbourhood frequency effects are usually attributed to lexical processes, at least in lexical-decision experiments and in eye-movement studies on normal reading. The distribution of higher frequency neighbours which is found to have a facilitatory effect on French words in lexical-decision experiments can be attributed to lexical processes in the interactive activation framework. The theoretical implications of the data are discussed in light of the original activation verification and interactive activation models and in recently extended versions of these models. We conclude that the lexical inhibition hypothesis which is central in the interactive activation framework is the most appropriate to account for the role of orthographic neighbourhoods in visual word recognition. cjep.
Syllables and morphemes: contrasting frequency effects in Spanish. Three types of sublexical units were studied in Spanish visual word recognition: the syllable, the basic orthographic syllabic structure (BOSS), and the root morpheme. In Experiment 1, using a lexical-decision task, a typical inhibitory effect of the first-syllable frequency was found (while keeping constant the BOSS frequency) as well as the word-frequency effect. Experiment 2 examined the role of both the BOSS frequency and the word frequency, also in a lexical-decision task. Syllable frequency was controlled. Both the BOSS frequency and the word frequency showed facilitatory effects. However, in Experiments 3A and 3B, a facilitatory effect of the root frequency (when controlling for BOSS frequency) and a null effect of BOSS frequency (when controlling for root frequency) were found, suggesting that the BOSS effect is in fact reflecting a morpheme effect. A review of the current models shows that it is difficult to integrate syllables and morphemes in a unique model. jeplmc.
Learning an invented inflectional morpheme in Spanish by children with typical language skills and with specific language impairment (SLI). Cross-linguistic research on SLI has suggested that how the disorder is manifested depends on the ambient language. For example, research on Italian indicates that SLI children do not present difficulties with verb inflection, when compared with MLU-matched peers. This pattern contrasts with what has been reported for English-speaking children. The present investigation sought to examine SLI children's use of inflectional morphology through a language teaching task similar to that used by Connell (1987) and Connell and Stone (1992). To address cross-linguistic differences, children were speakers of a language similar to Italian in its verb agreement paradigm. Sixteen Puerto Rican Spanish-speaking with SLI and 16 age-matched controls were taught a subject-verb agreement suffix that established the subject's gender. Half the children in each group were taught the new form via imitation. The rest of the participants were trained via a modeling procedure. Both comprehension and production of the target form were assessed. Results indicated significant differences across the SLI and typical groups for both comprehension and production of the inflectional morpheme, regardless of instructional strategy. These findings contradict what has been observed in previous studies on teaching an invented rule to children with SLI. They also suggest that inflectional morphology may be problematic even for children who are learning a morphologically rich language. The explanatory power of the process account and the linguistic account of SLI are explored as these pertain to the present findings, and suggestions for further research are discussed.