Thinking Outside the Box When Reading Aloud: Between (Localist) Module Connection Strength As a Source of Word Frequency Effects

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The frequency with which words appear in print is a powerful predictor of the time to read monosyllabic words aloud, and consequently all models of reading aloud provide an explanation for this effect. The entire class of localist accounts assumes that the effect of word frequency arises because the mental lexicon is organized around frequency of occurrence (the action is inside the lexical boxes). We propose instead that the frequency of occurrence effect is better understood in terms of the hypothesis that the strength of between module connections varies as a function of word frequency. Findings from 3 different lines of investigation (experimental and computational) are difficult to understand in terms of the “within lexicon” account, but are consistent with the strength of between-module connections account.

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