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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

How do readers code letter position?

In order to read successfully, readers need not only to identify the letters in words, but also to accurately code the positions of those letters, so that they can distinguish words like CAT and ACT. At the same time, however, it's clear that raeders can dael wtih wodrs in wihch not all the leettrs are in thier corerct psotiions.

For a long time most theories claimed that readers code letter position using mental representations of letters that are position-specific, eg, CAT would be coded by C-1, A-2, and T-3. Recent research has highlighted problems with this approach. Alternative theories of letter position coding address these problems in one of three broad ways.

The present project will test these theories by using a masked priming methodology. Priming refers to the finding that identification is faster/easier when the same stimulus is presented a second time. The speed-up is observed even when the prime is presented very briefly and masked, so that it is not consciously seen. Testing whether a misspelt version of a word helps to prime that word allows one to test the perceptual similarity of two letter strings, and so to test the different predictions made by different theories.