Evoking Automated Word Reading




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Fluent reading is a complex skill that depends on many subcomponent reading abilities, such as the rate and accuracy with which a reader processes lexical and sublexical information. As a component of skilled reading, automaticity at the sublexical and lexical levels is necessary to free up cognitive resources for processing text at a higher level. Models of word reading support the use of orthographic and phonological codes during lexical access. However, the theoretical frameworks and methods with which researchers attempt to define and measure automaticity vary broadly. The current study evaluated methods for measuring the neurophysiological signature of reading automaticity, including event-related potentials (ERP) and time frequency analysis (TFA). To do this, subjects participated in two reading tasks. The first task was a rhyming task, designed to elicit orthographic and phonological processing of novel words. The second task was a recognition task, designed to measure automaticity through visual word recognition. The ERP analysis revealed an effect of training for pseudowords within the N350 timeframe, but not the N170 timeframe, suggesting that phonological processing plays an important role in automatization of early exposures to new words. Results from TFA analyses revealed a selective sensitivity within the beta (15-30 Hz) and alpha (8-12 Hz) frequency bands to trained pseudowords. Specifically, pseudowords initially read in phonologically congruent contexts elicit greater beta and alpha engagement during a subsequent word recognition task. Findings suggest that phonological processing plays an important role in the initial stages of the automatization process. Furthermore, neurophysiological indicators of cross-modal integration (beta) and attention/inhibition (alpha) support the use of TFA in the empirical identification of word reading automaticity.



Electroencephalography, Beta rhythm, Alpha rhythm, Language and languages—Orthography and spelling, Grammar, Comparative and general—Phonology, Word recognition, Reading, Word recognition—Ability testing



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