Word Context Effects on Letter Recognition

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24 subjects were asked to determine whether a target letter was present in a tachistoscopically exposed word. The presence of the target was detected faster if the target was clearly sounded in the word, that is, the target G in the word TIGER was detected faster than the target G in the word Right. This effect was strongest among subjects whose over-all response time was below the median value This result was interpreted as evidence that (1) a word is recognized as a whole before its component parts are analyzed, (2) the transformation of the word from visual to acoustic code occurs before the analysis of the individual letters, and (3) individual differences in efficiency of target detection depend on a subject's over-all response time.

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