Processing determinants of reading speed

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Tested 2 groups of undergraduates (24 Ss) differing in reading ability on a number of reaction-time (RT) tasks designed to determine the speed of encoding visual information at several levels. Ss were given tests of sensory functions, verbal and quantitative reasoning ability, short-term auditory memory span, and ability to comprehend spoken text. The groups did not differ on the sensory tests. However, the faster reader group had faster RTs on all of the RT tasks, and the size of the fast-reader advantage increased with mean RT. Faster readers also performed more accurately in verbal and quantitative reasoning, short-term auditory memory, and speech comprehension. Regression analyses suggest that the ability to comprehend spoken material and speed of accessing overlearned memory codes for visually presented letters represented 2 independent correlates of reading ability: (1) the percentage of correct answers to a listening comprehension test and (2) the RT for correct responses in a letter-matching task. In a 2nd experiment, no RT difference was found between fast and average readers (a total of 24 undergraduates) in a matching task requiring no long-term memory code access but considerable visual information processing as indexed by overall mean RT. Results support the conclusion that 1 skill allowing fast readers to capture more information from each reading fixation is faster access to letter codes from print. (51 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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