The orthographic uniqueness point and eye movements during reading

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Recent research found that naming and lexical decision times for words with an early orthographic uniqueness point (OUP) were faster than for words with a late OUP (Kwantes & Mewhort, 1999a; Lindell, Nicholls, & Castles, 2003). A word's OUP corresponds to the letter position in the word where that word is differentiated from other words. These results have been presented as evidence for sequential letter processing in visual word recognition (Kwantes & Mewhort, 1999a). In two experiments, we attempted to extend these results to a more natural reading situation by recording participants’ eye movements. Readers read sentences with early or late OUP words embedded in them. In both experiments, we manipulated the amount of parafoveal information available during reading. Readers did not show any consistent benefit for reading words with an early OUP regardless of the amount of preview available. Our results are at odds with the naming and lexical decision data and prove problematic for models that predict OUP effects.

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