Phonological Neighbors Influence Word Naming Through the Least Supported Phoneme

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Recent research has shown that phonological neighborhood density facilitates naming latencies. In an attempt to extend this work, the authors evaluated the effect of phonological neighborhood distribution by comparing responding to words that consisted of 3 phonemes but differed in the number of phoneme positions that could be changed to form a neighbor (i.e., 2 vs. 3 positions). The results revealed that words in which all 3 positions could be changed to form a neighbor were named more rapidly than were words in which only 2 positions could be changed. The results show that this effect occurs due to a difference between the 2 groups of words in terms of their least supported phoneme (i.e., the phoneme position within a word with which the fewest neighbors overlap). The authors show that differences in terms of the number of neighbors for the least supported phoneme can also explain past research that indicates an effect of phonological neighborhood density on naming. The authors explain the results of this research using the dual-route cascaded model of reading aloud.

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