Phonological Parafoveal Pre-processing in Children Reading English Sentences

Milledge, Sara orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0158-0380, Zang, Chuanli orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9573-4968, Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 and Blythe, Hazel I. (2022) Phonological Parafoveal Pre-processing in Children Reading English Sentences. Cognition . ISSN 0010-0277

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Although previous research has shown that, in English, both adult and teenage readers parafoveally pre-process phonological information during silent reading, to date, no research has been conducted to investigate such processing in children. Here we used the boundary paradigm during silent sentence reading, to ascertain whether typically developing English children, like adults, parafoveally process words phonologically. Participants’ eye movements (adults: n = 48; children: n = 48) were recorded as they read sentences which contained, in preview, correctly spelled words (e.g., cheese), pseudohomophones (e.g., cheeze), or spelling controls (e.g., cheene). The orthographic similarity of the target words available in preview was also manipulated to be similar (e.g., cheese/cheeze/cheene) or dissimilar (e.g., queen/kween/treen). The results indicate that orthographic similarity facilitated both adults’ and children’s pre-processing. Moreover, children parafoveally pre-processed words phonologically very early in processing. The children demonstrated a pseudohomophone advantage from preview that was broadly similar to the effect displayed by the adults, although the orthographic similarity of the pseudohomophone previews was more important for the children than the adults. Overall, these results provide strong evidence for phonological recoding during silent English sentence reading in 8- to 9-year-old children.

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