Is Orthographic Information From Multiple Parafoveal Words Processed in Parallel: An Eye-Tracking Study

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In the current study we investigated whether orthographic information available from 1 upcoming parafoveal word influences the processing of another parafoveal word. Across 2 experiments we used the boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) to present participants with an identity preview of the 2 words after the boundary (e.g., hot pan), a preview in which 2 letters were transposed between these words (e.g., hop tan), or a preview in which the same 2 letters were substituted (e.g., hob fan). We hypothesized that if these 2 words were processed in parallel in the parafovea then we may observe significant preview benefits for the condition in which the letters were transposed between words relative to the condition in which the letters were substituted. However, no such effect was observed, with participants fixating the words for the same amount of time in both conditions. This was the case both when the transposition was made between the final and first letter of the 2 words (e.g., hop tan as a preview of hot pan; Experiment 1) and when the transposition maintained within word letter position (e.g., pit hop as a preview of hit pop; Experiment 2). The implications of these findings are considered in relation to serial and parallel lexical processing during reading.

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