Features versus redundancy: Comments on Massaro, Venezky, and Taylor's “Orthographic regularity, positional frequency, and visual processing of letter strings.”

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D. W. Massaro et al (see record 1980-27129-001) found only a modest effect of familiarity on letter search, apparently because they pitted pseudowords (rather than real words) against nonwords and used lowercase rather than uppercase letters. Pre-cuing the target letter further reduced the familiarity effect they found, but this conclusion is clouded by the fact that reaction time data were compared with accuracy data. Because similarity between target and nontarget letters tended to have more of an effect when familiarity had less of an effect, Massaro et al proposed a successive model, with features being detected in the 1st stage and orthographic structure being used in a 2nd stage. However, a concurrent model, with a self-terminating race between lower and higher level processes, can account for the data just as well. Data demonstrate that there is a familarity effect based on sequential redundancy over and above any effect based on spatial redundancy. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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