One Second of Reading: a Model by Philip Gough

Topics: Ambiguity, Semantics, Linguistics Pages: 5 (1037 words) Published: September 15, 2008

Suppose the eye of a moderately skilled adult reader (henceforth, THE READER) were to fall on this sentence, and that he were to read it aloud.

- One second after his initial fixation, only the first word will have been uttered. But during that second, a number of events will have transpired in the mind of the Reader. If we knew the train of events, we would know about the different reading processes. If we knew these processes, we would know what the child must learn to become a READER.

- First, it tries to describe the sequence of events that transpire in one second of reading, in order to suggest the nature of the processes that link them. - Second, it attempts to relate this description to some facts about the acquisition of reading. - The description of chain of events is intended to be exhaustive in conviction that the complexity of the reading process cannot be fully appreciated. Thus, it is detailed by choice, speculative by necessity, and almost certainly flawed.


- The Reading process begins with an eye fixation. The Reader’s eyes focus on a point slightly indented from the beginning of the line. They remain on the fixation for some 250msec. They will sweep 1-4 degrees of visual angle, around 10-12 letter spaces to the right, consuming 10-23msec, and a new fixation will begin.

- When the initial fixation is achieved, a visual pattern is reflected onto the retina. This sets in motion a complicated sequence of activity in the visual system, finishing in the formation of an ICON.


- Reading begins through cognitive and visual processes. The icon is a central event, presumably corresponding to neural activity in the striate cortex and it is an “unidentified” or “pre-categorical” visual image, a set of bars, slits, edges, curves, angles, and breaks.

- Even though the icon contains any form of content, iconic buffer has a substantial capacity. The decay of the icon persists for several seconds if the stimulus is followed by darkness or it can be erased.


Data suggest a comparable rate:

- MASKED RECOGNITION THRESHOLD for familiar five letter words to be roughly 90 msec. (Scharf, Zamansky, et al., 1966) - VISUAL RECOGNITION LATENCY increases steadily from 615 msec for three-letter words to 693 msec for ten-letter words. (Stewart, James, et al., 1969) - Four-letter words are acknowledged some 35 msec faster than six-letter words. (Gough and Stewart, 1970)


Two possibilities:
- The lexicon ID directly accessible from the character register that the reader goes “directly” from print to meaning. - We go directly from print to meaning in the way of speech.

A Third Hypothesis:
- Getting the advantages of both and the disadvantages of neither


Prevalence of Ambiguity
- Words are understood one at a time : seems like frequently misunderstood. - Prior context would determine the course of lexical search: procedure not incorporated in the present model

Explanation of first prevalence:
- Presence of lexical ambiguity in a sentence increases difficulty in processing the sentence. For example, a phoneme is given in monitoring a sentence and the reaction time to the target is increased if it is followed by an ambiguous item.

Explanation to second prevalence:
- Several experiments have failed to find evidence that the disruptive effect of ambiguity can be eliminated by prior context. Foss has found the same increase in phoneme monitor latency after an ambiguous word even when that word is preceded by a context that completely disambiguates it.


- Where contents of lexical entries, including phonological, syntactic, and semantic information are deposited. The PM and the comprehension device interact in some way.

Three Evidences:
- More words may be retained in sentences than out of...
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