Previewing the Neighborhood: The Role of Orthographic Neighbors as Parafoveal Previews in Reading

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In 2 experiments, a boundary technique was used with parafoveal previews that were identical to a target (e.g., sleet), a word orthographic neighbor (sweet), or an orthographically matched nonword (speet). In Experiment 1, low-frequency words in orthographic pairs were targets, and high-frequency words were previews. In Experiment 2, the roles were reversed. In Experiment 1, neighbor words provided as much preview benefit as identical words and greater benefit than nonwords, whereas in Experiment 2, neighbor words provided no greater preview benefit than nonwords. These results indicate that the frequency of a preview influences the extraction of letter information without setting up appreciable competition between previews and targets. This is consistent with a model of word recognition in which early stages largely depend on excitation of letter information, and competition between lexical candidates becomes important only in later stages.

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