Action and Perception in Literacy: A Common-Code for Spelling and Reading

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Abstract

There is strong evidence that reading and spelling in alphabetical scripts depend on a shared representation (common-coding). However, computational models usually treat the two skills separately, producing a wide variety of proposals as to how the identity and position of letters is represented. This article treats reading and spelling in terms of the common-coding hypothesis for perception-action coupling. Empirical evidence for common representations in spelling-reading is reviewed. A novel version of the Start-End Competitive Queuing (SE-CQ) spelling model is introduced, and tested against the distribution of positional errors in Letter Position Dysgraphia, data from intralist intrusion errors in spelling to dictation, and dysgraphia because of nonperipheral neglect. It is argued that no other current model is equally capable of explaining this range of data. To pursue the common-coding hypothesis, the representation used in SE-CQ is applied, without modification, to the coding of letter identity and position for reading and lexical access, and a lexical matching rule for the representation is proposed (Start End Position Code model, SE-PC). Simulations show the model’s compatibility with benchmark findings from form priming, its ability to account for positional effects in letter identification priming and the positional distribution of perseverative intrusion errors. The model supports the view that spelling and reading use a common orthographic description, providing a well-defined account of the major features of this representation.

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