Word Recognition I: visual and orthographic processes


  • Grainger Jonathan

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Reading is both a visual and a linguistic skill, and orthographic processing occupies the key interface between vision and language (Grainger, 2018). From this perspective, single-word reading is a combination of visual object identification processes and linguistic processing, with orthographic processing connecting the two. My aim in this chapter is to review the visual and orthographic processes involved in identifying letters, dealing with letter strings and identifying individual words. Recognizing that words are rarely processed in isolation, I end the chapter by describing more recent work that considers orthographic processing in the context of multiple words and in doing so, attempts to bridge the gap between research on single-word reading and research on sentence reading. Throughout, my focus is on the processes involved in skilled reading in languages that use an alphabetic script. Written words present a special class of stimuli, distinct from visual objects more generally. Orthographic processing allows generic visual processing mechanisms to make contact with the linguistic processes that are specific to word stimuli. As shown in Figure 3.1, the contact is established via orthographic processing across three types of mapping: 1) orthography-to-semantics via whole-word orthographic representations (orthographic words); 2) orthography to morpho-semantics via morpho-orthographic representations; and 3) orthography-to-phonology via sublexical spelling-sound correspondences.

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