For both adult and child readers of English, the first letter of a word plays an important role in lexical identification. Using the boundary paradigm during silent sentence reading, we examined whether the first-letter bias in parafoveal preprocessing is phonologically or orthographically driven and whether this differs between skilled adult and beginner child readers. Participants read sentences that contained either a correctly spelled word in preview (identity; e.g., “circus”), a preview letter string that maintained the phonology but manipulated the orthography of the first letter (P + O− preview; e.g., “sircus”), or a preview letter string that manipulated both the phonology and the orthography of the first letter (P− O− preview; e.g., “wircus”). There was a cost associated with manipulating the first letter of the target words in preview for both adults and children. Critically, during first-pass reading, both adult and child readers displayed similar reading times between P + O− and P− O− previews. This shows that the first-letter bias is driven by orthographic encoding and that the first letter’s orthographic code in preview is crucial for efficient, early processing of phonology.
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance|
|Early online date||28 Mar 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 1 May 2022|